I have learnt through trial and error that two decent coats of primer make a huge difference to the finished look of the paint and would highly recommend priming first when painting furniture. I used zinnser 3 in 1 primer (after a few people suggested it) and it is amazing! As long as the surface is clean and free of flaky bits you can paint it on just about anything. Can you imagine how much sanding this table would have required? Why bother when you can paint the primer straight on and get to work. So it got two nice coats of zinnser and then two coats of semi gloss and that was it.So now we have a nice little side table that looks pretty and can stay around for a while. The inside of the drawer was looking a bit sad as it is made of some cheap chipboard/mdf stuff so I painted it as well and then glued some paper to the inside to spruce it up a bit. It's just scrapbooking paper and I used some spray adhesive to hold it down.
So there you go, another cheap and cheerful makeover. I wonder what will be next? Maybe I should go and do some sewing before the whole house gets painted!