want lowest profile load-bearing support beam (removing wall)
I want to remove a 16' load bearing wall between my living room and family room to make it one big great-room, and will need to have a 16' load-bearing beam installed, but I want it to look as low-profile as possible. The living room and family room are both against an outside wall of our brick 2 story house (the living rm, family rm are on the main level, with bedrooms above).
Here are my questions.
1) What type of beam will look the most inconspicuous (ie "least thick") for this and still do the job, and about how many inches will it show out of the ceiling when the project is complete?
2) Can the beam be tied into the outside wall of the house so I don't have to use any internal support against that wall (such as a jackpost or pillar). Since I want that wall to be flush when the project is done?
3) One contractor that came to check it out had mentioned using "joist Hangars" to make the beam look the least conspicuous...Is this a feasable option? and how much of a difference will it make in obvious inches compared to a standard beam when the project is complete?