Awesome build. really.
I'm running into a similar issue as you with regard to the height of my surrounds and rears relative to my ceiling speakers. My surrounds are ~5ft off the ground with my ceilings speakers ~ 7 1/2 ft up. Ideally I'd like to drop my surrounds ~18in or so.
My surrounds are all inwalls and tinkering with heights is a PIA, obviously. I'd also like to move away from the inwalls. I noticed your vandersteen VSM1s and LOVE the aesthetic look of them. Much better than just some speaker box hanging off the wall. I know you went away from them, but would you recommend them? Or possibly something else with a similar look? New they are out of my price range, but I've found 2 pairs for around $900.
Also in milwaukeee area, Delafield. Doing my best to optimize my theater, but no where near your level. lol.
FS: 3 Speakercraft AIM2 LCR5 Five - PM Me
Marantz SR7010 - Emotiva XPA-3 Gen 3 - SeymourAV 16:9 Premier 130" XD - Sony VPL-VW60 - 7.2.4 - L/C/R SVS Ultra Bookshelf - Surrounds SpeakerCraft AIM LCR5Three - Ceiling SpeakerCraft AIM 8 - Klipsch R110sw - Def Tech Supercube 6000