Drywall built-in removal- suggestions?
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What looks like a fairly simple project could end up being a real disaster, or not. Frankly, we don't know what is hidden behind that drywall. The contractor could have run wiring, or gas lines, or just about anything. On first glance, I see no obvious reason you could not remove the three drywall shelves and or cabinets on either side of the fireplace and add pre drilled melamine shelf sides to make the shelves adjustable shelves. Going past that and you are getting into bearing structure and MAY need an engineer.
Above the fireplace, the niche with the picture and the other niche are pretty much fixed. About all you could do there is make the drywall flush. Or get a TV big enough to cover it entirely and have the wall mount set up to hold it over the opening. I'd add doors to match the flanking sides on the middle lower section.
When me and my wife bought our last house we faced a similar problem. At first we decided to keep the drywall as it looked aesthetically pleasing. It was when we cleaned up in the house that we understood how unpractical it was having such a thing in your house. It was taking me about 20 minutes to clear the dust from it the same amount of time I needed to deal with a room without a drywall. Our decision was simple, we hired a firm to destroy it and clear up all the ss in the process. Now the room has a lot more space.
Opening up the top half of the shelving area would even make a big difference.