You might try experimenting with the side surrounds lightly in front of your listening position.
I've done this with different design/brands a few times and am currently with QS8's.
It works very well, hard to clarify with out trying.
At least in my own room, using the receiver to expand a 5.1 signal to 7.1, the sides surrounds add ambiance, almost equivalent to front heights, only closer.
Its one of those don't knock it until you've tried it things.
It comes with the added benefit of being able to raise your arms, clasped behind your head without interrupting the feel of the room/sound field.
I have never know it to be a distraction, it has never brought me out of the scene, ever (when using 7.1).
Hopefully the short meeting Monday morning will turn into immediate employment. He did call me....