I am anything but a vintage purist - what I really love is taking something and making it my own, whether that means repainting it, changing the hardware, or using it differently to what was originally intended.
Rule number one is to search with an open mind. If youre concerned about how a certain piece you fell in love with may fit in with your existing decor, try to isolate its features - is it a similar scale to your other furniture? Is it (or could it be repainted in) a colour that you already have in that space? This is a great way to imagine if mis-matched chairs will work around a dining table, or if 2 fairly different bedside stands can co-exist!
Stripping paint or varnish off and repainting can give a dramatically new look to an old and even slightly beat-up piece of furniture. There are lots of great products out there, and your local brico store (Leroy Merlin et al) will have specific options for furniture “re-looking”. While certain products promise that you can apply them directly onto the existing paint or varnish, this will never give you the perfectly smooth and blemish free results of a properly prepped surface. To earn your bragging rights you have to put in the elbow grease. A décapant will help - but please only use that outdoors!! For paints, I love the chalk or furniture-specific products by Liberon.
This is the fancy part, like deciding your bag and shoes, or the perfect touch of bling to complement an outfit. Replacing hardware like handles for drawers or hinges & locks for cabinet doors can instantly uplift a blah dresser. Gorgeous brass handles are easily available from brico stores, Boutons et Poignees or Plum Kitchen. You can go much further in your creativity and add or change legs from furniture using options like Tip Toe, Super Front or even Ikea’s range of legs. You'll be amazed how lifting a dresser off the ground with the addition of legs can change its look!