The faux beams would be my choice if I wanted a distressed appearance.
Normally, I want the "real thing" but the way these new beams look (see posting above) they are very realistic. With that high ceiling they would look great. In new builds, my trim people do an amazing job of distressing and hand making the true wood "covers" over infrastructure and stain them like the trim or flooring whichever the client wants and they look amazing. Talk to your builder about the options. Our trim people charged less than the premade faux beams but each area is different. You will have to price them out. But, yes, with that ceiling distressed beams would be beautiful.
If you want to go more mid-century modern, you could put some glass panes in the gable if there is a cathedral ceiling upstairs.
Some ideas: build a low wooden bench between the columns and find some post-rationalization for it; fill with a good flexible caulk and call the crack "character"; paint a border on top of the foundation wall (up to where the cracks are) to match the foundation side.
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