The finish was a dark mahogany which was a bit too heavy for my space, so I decided to lighten this piece up with some fresh paint. Since it was such a small surface I used an 8 ounce container of chalk paint that I picked up from my local Home Depot.
As soon as I stepped back, I realized that I wanted to leave the top with the darker finish as a contrast. Of course I had already begun painting the top, but was able to quickly wipe away with a damp cloth and some light sanding to remove the paint from the wood grain.
After two coats of chalk paint I began to sand the entire piece to give character. I hit the high points of the piece with sandpaper along with the "high-traffic" areas, such as around the drawer pulls.
The piece was finished with Anne Sloan's furniture wax. Here is the final product.