foyer suggestions coveted...

Hi Folks,
I'm working over some house plans with my builder and would like input on a foyer question. The geometry is very difficult to describe, but basically we would like to bring some natural lighting into the home from a dormer that sits about 6' above the entrance door. The foyer is an area about 8 x 12', and opens to a kitchen/living room area with a cathedral ceiling (the peak of the cathedral ceiling is centered over the main living area, and runs left to right from the perspective of the front door).
There are two options we're considering for the foyer. One is to 'box in' the elevated ceiling, so the entire foyer area has a ceiling height of approximately 18 feet. All four walls of this elevated ceiling area will be plumb, and the height will drop back down to the 9' ceiling height before entering into the cathedral area. There is no integration of the foyer ceiling with the cathedral. This seems 'cleaner, but might limit the natural lighting that goes into the main living area because of the 'low' 9' ceiling at the opposite end of the foyer.
The other option is to integrate this raised ceiling with the cathedral. This is really hard to describe. Basically, for the width of the foyer, we would carry the _opposite_ side of the cathedral ceiling upward, at the same slope, past the peak of the cathedral, until it meets the ceiling in the foyer. The side walls and front of the foyer would be done the same way. This second approach would give all of the natural lighting a path into the kitchen area and everywhere else, but i'm a little concerned about all the angles and any potential difficulty framing it in.
One other consideration is that the basement stairwell could use all the natural lighting it can get. The first option would 'box in' this natural lighting more, and may result in better lighting of the stairwell...i'm not sure.
Any suggestions? Sorry if my descriptions aren't very clear.
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Gah,
By this:

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
I mean that they side and 'front' foyer elevated walls would be done the same way as they are in the first option...as in no difference. :) The big difference between the two are how the 'far' wall of the foyer integrates with the rest of the house.
Thanks again, and of course more options are always welcome!!!
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This is all new construction? If it's an existing home ignore my post as I'm going to assume this is all new construction.
I'd go with option #2. To be honest, I doubt I'd even consider option #1 because I think it'll look horrendous (at least they way I have it "pictured" - which might not be accurate). Option #1 means you walk into an "elevator shaft" foyer and directly ahead of you (ok, ahead and up) is a freakin' wall from 9' up to 18'. While putting a painting or some other decorative item on that wall area will help make it less atrocious looking, it still won't look/feel as good as a vaulted foyer meshing with the main vault.
Option #2 gives you a more inviting feel as the foyer is less confined and the main vault can be seen from the foyer. Now, if you had a sketch of the floor plan (even rough) that we could see we could better understand the "feel" of the whole structure and offer more solid opinions (though not necessarily more of a consensus). Exterior elevations would be helpful as dormers tend to be sized too big/small way to often (IMHO).
The success of the foyer really depends upon the desired feel and the foyers connection (both inside and out) with the rest of the house. A rectangular foyer, walled on 3 sides (and partially on 4 - like opt #1) tends to be a much more formal (possibly less inviting, but certainly more private feeling) than opt #2. If the home is in a style that dictates it, or you desire it, than fine, but it really depends upon a lot more than just what you've given us.
As far as Don's mention of cost, ignore it (sorry Don but the costs really only varies if this is a remodel/addition, if it's all new construction then cost isn't much of a factor).
HTH,
Michael (LS)
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Wow guys! I think you both have it pictured precisely, and I really appreciate the input.
It is new construction, and there is currently a 'channel' formed that could basically contain any shape we wish to create. The trusses are doubled on each side, and I imagine they will just brace the shape along the truss webs and just put a bunch of 'crosspieces' to span the channel and hang drywall from. I'm sure there's more to it than that, but the framing foreman was basically just swirling his hand around and saying 'you can really just do whatever in the world you want to'.
Overall the house has an extremely open feel, so i'm leaning along the lines of option #2. I may not take the 'slope' the whole way to the dormer ceiling, i may break a bit short and take it straight up to avoid the 'ski slope' effect that an unbroken 30' strip of ceiling might create. The 'deck' below the dormer window is about 5' deep, and is going to make a nice place for a Christmas tree in '08. I just can't wait to get in there. :)
Thanks again folks, very good input and much appreciated!
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What about a barrel vault for the dormer ceiling - it can be a nice look when the barrel intersects the regular main vault!
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Aren't skylights being considered? They could be made to fit the architecture and structural framing. You can then get light you might be considering.
CID...
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