When my client described how he wanted to convert his home's existing two-car garage into a spacious new living room, I knew it would be a great project for my design/build firm. Measuring 34 feet deep by 28 feet wide, the garage space was a blank slate — little more than an unheated box with a concrete slab for a floor. The garage had a full-height attic that he was planning to convert into a master suite, and the first floor had plenty of space for a nice living room and his many collectibles. The only problem was that the wide-open floor plan he wanted wouldn't be possible until we figured out a way to support the second floor's main girder, which was propped up by a steel I-beam running down the center of the garage.

When we started the design process — specifically, figuring out how to create a unique space and support the second floor without posts or columns — I immediately thought of local steel fabricator and sculptor John Rubino, whose decorative steel beams are on display in various residential and commercial structures in northern Vermont. Although...

or Register to read the full article.