Some Asian-inspired touches can be just what you need to transform a room from bland and boring to exotic and sophisticated. You don't have to invest a lot in new furniture to get the look; this is a job you can do yourself. Refinish an old table to give it a new style with paint.
Strip Away Old Coats
If your table has layers of built-up old paint, sealant or wax, they must be stripped away. For old paint, use a paint stripping kit and follow the manufacturer's directions. For sealant coats, use a deglosser according to directions on the package. Use naphtha to remove a wax build-up by rubbing it into the surface with a cloth until the wax dissolves, then wiping it clean with a dry cloth.
Prepare the Surface
Clean the surface thoroughly with an all-purpose spray cleaner -- even if you didn't strip it, it still requires cleaning. Sand the surfaces evenly with a fine grit sandpaper. This will give it a 'tooth' and help with paint adherence. Vacuum away all dust, then wipe the surface thoroughly with a tack cloth to pick up any remnants. As a final measure, apply a coat of latex primer and let it dry. Primer helps with paint adhesion, and helps you get a smooth, even coat.
Choosing the Paint
A hallmark of Asian style furniture is a glossy, lacquered finish. Choose a high gloss latex or enamel paint in order to achieve this look. The color you choose largely depends on which Asian styles you are trying to capture. For Chinese decor, red is appropriate. If you're leaning more toward an Indian style, consider using something more exotic like jewel-toned orange or purple. Japanese styles are more likely to be in neutral shades, like rich browns. If you're trying for a more generic Asian style, you can go with black.
Seal it Well
Once the paint is thoroughly set, you can seal the surface. A sealant will help protect your paint job and preserve the color. One or two coatings of clear polyurethane sealer, with drying time between coats, should work fine, but if your table gets a lot of wear and tear you can give it a third coat for extra protection. Choose a high-gloss sealer to keep in line with that polished, lacquered look.