This is actually a really excellent guide on restoring old furniture. How to Refinish Furniture Without Stripping
Use a polyester filler to rebuild rotted or damaged wood. You can mold and shape it to match the original wood profile. It takes paint well and won't rot.
Mod Podge lace onto front then paint over.
Bird chest. The tutorial is here: http://lindycottagehill.blogspot.com/2011/02/bow-front-bird-chest.html
Before and After website. TONS of DIYs for refurbishing furniture, many of which link to other good blogs
How to remove paint from furniture without chemicals !! by @Gina Gab Solórzano Gab Solórzano Gab Solórzano Giampaolo @ Shabby Creek Cottage