||08-06-2012 01:23 PM
This was a common practice in the 1980's. I just finished a remodel like this earlier in the year.
1. Yes, you can punch a hole in the ceiling to explore but be careful. We ended up leaving a perimeter at the original ceiling height due to aesthetics and structure. The central part of the ceiling became a trey ceiling with recessed lights. Demolish carefully until you can understand their original framing.
2. In our case, they had 2x12 framing to support the 2nd story and 2x6 on edge with the 2x12 to create an open space for wiring and HVAC ducting. We removed the 2x6 framing to create the higher ceiling and relocated the wiring higher within the 2x12 space to get it out of the way. Similarly, we elevated the HVAC duct and reattached it to the framing and ceiling. (see pics)
3. While we were at it, I ran low volt airing for under-cabinet LED task lighting.
4. Of course, the wiring for the recessed lights was added, using the existing flourescent wiring for power. The breaker had to be upgraded to 20 AMP and the wiring (#12) supported the upgrade.
5. Following the design of the house, we used bullnose drywall corner bead and skip troweled the surface. The gloss paint was chosen to match existing.
Like any project, these are the essentials. There were a lot of tricks along to way. I hope you can get started with this as a guide!