Rich character: reate a contemporary look by covering the entire bookcase with ebony stain, which is easy to apply and adds deep colour. Buy a light-colour linen roller shade to fit the width and height of the bookcase. Install it at the top to hide clutter and add a pull. Fill the shelves with boxes and files in neutral tones.

Hidden away: Board-and-batten shutters with cut-outs always create a traditional cottage feel. Prime, sand, and paint the bookcase. Get the shutters made by a carpenter and attach them to the front of the bookcase with cabinetry hinges. Finish the look with a forged-iron shutter bolt.

Photographs by Steven McDonald

Styling by Beth Eslinger and Pam Porter

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