The layout of the house was a little strange when we first bought it. The rooms were all very cut off from each other and the flow of the house was pretty choppy. Matt and I decided to open up a wall from the front room to the kitchen (these are two of the largest rooms in the house, they are next to each other, and yet have no entryway between the two). As this was a load-bearing wall, Matt and his dad had to take extra care to make sure their new supports would hold the weight. Here's the before, during and after pictures of the new doorway. I love how it looks! Most people can't even tell that we added it. It looks like it was always there.
Now I'll talk about how they did it. First, Matt and his father removed all of the wood panelling from both sides of the wall and brought the wall down to the studs.
Once the wall was brought down to studs, they built a temporary wall to support the kitchen ceiling while they took the studs out and put in new supports.
The supports were a double cripple support, which means they built a 6 inch beam using two 2x6s with a piece of MDF sandwiched in between. This beam would eventually become the header for the doorway. Supporting the beam on either side were two 2x4s cut to the appropriate height. The temporary wall was put in. The studs were removed. The top beam was put in first once the studs were removed. Then they supported the beam on both ends by wedging the 2x4s into the space left in the wall.
Once the supports were installed, the temporary wall was removed and the doorway was complete. It brightens up our room so much. And I couldn't be happier with it.