I did some experimenting today.
First I bought a new rug, which I think fits the room perfectly, and it was damn near free. I'll never really get the idea of spending thousands on rugs. Then again, I have dogs and it's not wise to waste money on something they'll just shed and spit up on anyway.
Then I fished a wire up and over the fireplace and plugged in the Polks:
Then I grabbed the canopy from the 90 gallon tank I have downstairs, which is 4 feet wide, to get an idea for how much space it'd occupy on that wall (this photo has no flash, since it was making the color look weird. Real color of this place and cabinets can be seen in that post up above). It leaves plenty of space for a speaker (and the vent), but would probably not be the greatest influence on the sound.
Anyway, the front center of the Polks are 24" from the back wall and I'm going to be honest: They sounded pretty darn good in this alignment on the first try. The front of the couch is 8' away from them and the imaging is good despite the fireplace being between them. Downstairs I had them 36" from the wall. For something temporary, I'm happy. Now I can sit at my "desk" (the kitchen table) and not crank the volume of the ceiling speakers in the dining room.
This arrangement did bring to mind another question: At this distance (from the wall), are there any Axioms that stand out as clearly better (or worse) choices for me?
Obviously I'm trying to rationalize getting M80s. But they're much deeper than these Polks (which are 13w x 8d x 43h), which would place them very close to the wall in back.
The next question is what center to get and where I should put it. The previous owner had those stupid Bose cubes so they sat easily on the mantel. The bottom of the TV is 7" from there though so that limits me. I don't think a low center on a stand in front of the fireplace will pass WAF, and I think putting one up above the TV will look stupid unless I go with M2s up top too, which will then suck for music.
I'm leaning very heavily towards the HG burled walnut finish for whatever I get, though, based on this photo
and setup I saw, plus the fact that we're going to have a table nearby with that same wood. The coffee table in the photos isn't going to be around much longer so the lighter wood won't clash. Or would that be too different from the kitchen?
Yes, I realize I've now departed entirely from the subject of my own thread. It should be obvious by now that I have been spending WAY too much time obsessing about getting this room just right. (And to think... there are still 4 other rooms, including the reference theater, to obsess about after this one!) I welcome and appreciate any and all input any of you might have.