Hey guys, thanks for the help.
I hadn't considered the hot water heater because it hasn't ever been in the unit! Now that it's mentioned, yeah, that access door is in just the wrong place! So 2 options here right? I could relocate it wherever, and hide it similarly to the furnace back under some cabinets, etc. (with appropriate venting of course) or I need to change up my bedroom design.
Oh and on the curved ceiling, yeah, that's one I had considered
I've seen some cool concepts others have done with pocket doors along these lines.
As far as the shell off, I'm conflicted. First off I'm super intimidated by that prospect. Seems like a BIG JOB. I'd love some more info on the main steps involved in doing that. Second, I'm really drawn to it, because it seems like it would be so much easier to do so much of that work with the top off. Am I right?
Thanks again, and I'll do some searching on shell off how to's on the forum, but would welcome any of what you guys went through with yours.