Do you have some old shutters, or know where to get some. I was lucky enough to come across a bundle of them that had been stored outside for quite a while. I knew that with a little TLC they could be beautiful and useful!
Step 1: Sand them, or don't!
I hand sanded for hours. Because I was using Old Fashioned Milk Paint, and the look I was going for was antiqued, I sanded the ones I used the Milk Paint on. Milk Paint only adheres to surfaces that do not have a prior paint or stain on them (unless you put in the special bonding agent). If you are using regular paint, I would make sure and do a light sanding to make sure the paint adheres and work it from there.
Step 2: To Paint or to Stain - That is the Question!
After sanding, I painted the shutters. A word to the wise (which I wasn't on the first shelf). Make sure the shutter is closed all the way and glue the cross bar in place. After the paint is dry I put polyurethane over the top because I love the look of the milk paint, but I wanted to protect it from moisture since I was going to place mine in the bathroom. Milk paint is great because it comes in powder form. You mix up only as much as you need at the time, and by mixing in more or less white you can make just about any shade of the color you want. And by putting in more or less water you can even get a real worn, antiqued look, which is what I did with an old gate I have.