I will give you pictures first and talk later. Behold the power of an amazing lacquer job.
The before wasn't too terrible, but it was dark, dingy, and smelly. I picked up the piece at an outdoor space where there was lots of smoking, so I didn't detect a funky odor until I got it in my studio. Enter the lacquer shop...
A lacquer job and polishing brass hardware can make a WORLD of difference!