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Check out the picture below -- that bar / pony wall area and the rest of the wall where the thermostat is are being knocked down to open up the kitchen.

Question is, can I make the kitchen ceiling flush with the remainder of the dining room?

What is the purpose of originally making the kitchen ceiling lower? Were builders/designers in the mid-80s (when my unit was built) just dealing with different expectations?

Matt's kitchen

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It could have been done for many reasons. The main reason would be for support. There is most likely a support beam going across the top. If there is you can move these but you need a structural engineer to come and show you / give an estimate on exactly how to do it. I have moved a few of these and it was always a pain when pushing the support into the ceiling so it was not able to be seen. A few other reasons are duct work / electrical / plumbing / for a different look. –  deathismyfriend May 26 at 23:44
    
Seconding @deathismyfriend's suggestions. I recently opened a pair of arches in walls in my house, and retaining a bit of wall at the top was both a structural requirement (for a Parallam beam across each opening) and a stylistic decision (I wanted the new openings to be at the same height as similar existing openings, for visual continuity, and the partial wall masks the difference in ceiling heights between two of the rooms). –  keshlam May 27 at 0:58
    
I should add, however, that the ceiling of my kitchen flows directly into that of my living room, so there's no stylistic reason that you must have a break there. On the other hand, my instinct is that this "pass-through" opening might look a bit strange if it wasn't framed as it is now. –  keshlam May 27 at 1:00
    
It is possible the whole drop ceiling is just a design choice in order to have flush panel lighting, in which case it all could be removed. It is quite likely a more difficult to remove item is being hidden. There is only one way to find out, cut some access holes and have a look. Try to cut in ways that are easy to patch in case it all needs to stay. –  bcworkz May 27 at 17:04

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