This is actually an update I received from our builder two weeks ago, but I failed to post the photos when it came in. There were some interesting developments which I completely failed to notice in the photos so they came as a surprise to me when I went up to the house and saw them in person.
Among other things, he removed the drop-down soffit along the kitchen / living room border. I asked him to do this because I want the option of leaving it open or else just hanging some old casement windows in that space. In any event, it was not load bearing and it was ugly and I didn't like it so we'll revisit it later - more space is more better. In the picture below it is the framed section of drop-down wall at the top of the photo.
|THIS IS BEFORE...|
|AND THIS IS AFTER!!|