Your proposal is certainly one solution, but I'm not sure any "best practices" protocols have been established. I use exactly the setup you describe, but only because I'm a computer professional and have access to cheap old laptops. I use two of them, one in the family room and one in the bedroom, to provide music via the Internet, but I don't use them for surfing - they'd be too slow. Right now the bedroom system is connected via the laptop's audio out to our Zenith tabletop radio and provides more than enough fidelity for sleep music. It's used primarily with iTunes streaming radio stations. I'm in the process of developing a second system for the family room, which will include a USB DAC and a small integrated with bookshelves. Both systems have wireless access to the Apple Lossless files on the main desktop, connected to the main rig. Also, my wife and I both have iBooks as our personal machines, which we use in other rooms for individual listening and on the road. We use VNC as our remote connection - I'm leery of the security of gotomypc.com.
However, if you're starting from scratch, it might be easier and cheaper to have something like a Squeezebox in every room. The Squeezebox is cheaper than all but the oldest laptops, and comes with a remote and software. It also saves you from all the operating system/antivirus/malware/maintenance headaches you have with multiple laptops. I predict Squeezebox-like devices will become very inexpensive over the next couple years, making this an even more sensible solution.