After talking to two different contractors, both of them want us to have a structural engineer come out and assess our, uh, wall situation (since the wall we want to ax is indeed partially holding up the ceiling in our living room/dining room and some of the roof). The engineer would draw up blueprints for opening up the wall and have us (or the contractor we choose) submit the plans to the city at the time we pull a permit.
Structural engineer? Permits? This was all starting to sound a little hectic (and expensive). Another option would be to just cut out a pass-through in the wall. With that plan, there would only be a restricted opening between the kitchen and the living room. The white built-ins would stay where they are and the wall where the kitchen meets the dining room would pretty much stay as is. No structural integrity would be compromised and we wouldn't need an engineer (right now we want to take that wall out from counter height all the way up to the ceiling--essentially creating an island with no walls around it)
But Robert and I talked about it and we figured, hey, we have this wall opened up anyway and we're committed to our idea of creating a more open floor plan. We might as well do what we want to do now rather than half-ass it, hate it, and want to change it down the road. So I emailed the structural engineer that, coincidentally, both contractors we talked to recommended. He's coming out early next week to take a looksies.
After he does his magic and we're, gulp, about $750 dollars poorer, the contractors will take a look at his plans and give us their estimates for the work. I guess at that point we'll see if this whole idea is totally unreasonable or not. Sigh.
On another note, our house is Dusty McDusty, i.e., really dusty. We didn't really think about the fact that, because our kitchen/living/dining space is essentially just one big room, when the kitchen became dusty construction zone, the rest of the living area became dusty construction zone. So drywall dust is all over the place. We're trying to contain it by putting plastic sheeting over the furniture and trying to keep our food/dishes as clean as possible. We've been hanging out a lot in our bedroom and I think the back patio will become our regular dining zone.