Brit Arnesen always wanted to live in a place with curves. “My dad had an older house when I was little, and it had all arched doorways,” says the Indiana-based DIYer and blogger behind britdotdesign. An opportunity arose when she and her husband decided to turn their garage into a bonus living space–slash–playroom and connect it to the rest of the home as a part of the One Room Challenge. Not only did she make the thresholds to the new room archways, but the built-in bookcases, ceiling molding, and whimsical lighting all have bends, too.
The first step was taking down the garage door and replacing it with a proper wall. “And then we moved onto the subfloor,” says Arnesen. The fact that the original surface had been angled to help water drain called for heavy-duty leveling—a process that turned out to be one of the more time-consuming projects. Once braced with 2-by-6-inch boards, brackets nailed into the concrete ground, and “tons and tons” of shims to prevent creaking, “all of a sudden it didn’t feel like a garage anymore,” she says.
Make the Dream Work With Drywall
The second-most time-consuming project was putting up all the new drywall. “I’m a little bit of a perfectionist,” says Arnesen. Smoothing out the joint compound (a gypsum-based mixture that gives the wall a seamless look) is like an art form, she notes. Then there’s the matter of controlling all the dust from sanding the mudlike application. Not only are you covered in debris, but your whole house is as well. “You’ll find it all the way across the house, like on the kitchen counter and in the sink,” she says. “So then you have to deep clean the rest of your space afterward.”
Hack Your Way to Perfect Curves
The easy way to get arched built-ins? Buy them online (hers are from Archways & Ceilings). “You can get them premade,” Arnesen points out. Once she measured the depth of the shelves and cut her piece of drywall to go along the backside, she flipped the sheet over and cut scores along the edges every inch or so. This way it would be malleable and easier to shape around the curved top.
Frame the Fireplace
For the fireplace facade, Arnesen opted for 24-by-24-inch terrazzo tiles from Concrete Collaborative. “I knew I wanted them to be relatively big so you wouldn’t notice the grout lines as much,” she explains. In order to make sure they would be uniform in size, she cut them down slightly to 20-by-20-inch squares, using the biggest tile saw she could find.
Arnesen clad both sides of the tiled structure with 3-inch-thick PVC pipes (they were cheaper than $50 hardwood half rounds), giving it an Art Deco look. She added caulk in between each crack to connect them, and then primed and painted everything.
Turn the Ceiling Into a Statement
One of the first things Arnesen drew out for the space when she was planning the room last November was the ceiling. But instead of buying and hanging a medallion as she did in her actual living room, she surrounded her Mitzi chandelier in oval molding. The design ultimately inspired the custom rug she created with Maman Rugs. Garage who?