WOW, WHAT A DIFFERENCE! THE architect suggested eliminating the bedroom above the living room and blowing out the ceiling when we added the bedrooms upstairs over the great room, but it was hard for us to imagine how it would really feel. But now it's spectacular ... and worthy of the house we've created. Leaving that section of the second floor over the foyer helps distinguish the entry from the living room, and I'm glad we were able to find for the new ceiling the same hand-hewn beams that we used in the great room. They really tie the house together.
I like the fact that they've been reclaimed (I'll bet we're the only house in Orlando with beams taken from an old military base in California and a grain elevator in Western Canada). I like the fact that we added a French door that leads out to the covered veranda at the base of the stairs. It makes it easy to get out there from the living room, instead of having to go through the kitchen.
We also always wanted a wine cellar, and it was ingenious to convert the space under the stairs and add that leaded glass window to the foyer. With the door to the cellar right off both the kitchen and dining room, grabbing another bottle from our growing “collection” is pretty convenient.
The new windows are also fantastic; they make the living room seem a lot larger, though we definitely need to do something outside, beyond the covered veranda. The kids want a pool, and that makes sense, but we're going to have to wait a while before we do any more remodeling after doing so much in the past five to six years. Besides, I still like the idea of adding a sitting area over the master suite and connecting it to the upstairs bedrooms with a wraparound deck before tackling a pool.