Over the weekened I decided to install an IMAP server on my home server. After asking around I decided to try Dovecot out. It's modern and apparently designed from the ground up to be simple and secure. I did the "apt-get" thing and Debian pulled and installed it all for me. The only configuration I had to perform was to tell it where my email is kept and that was it.
A quick google produced the correct configutation to get Mutt on my desktop system to talk with the new server, and it was done. I could use KMail, Thunderbird or some other fancy email client, but I find Mutt works perfectly well.
It's been up now for a few days without any apprent problem, and Mutt actually feels faster reading large mail boxes via IMAP than it did directly on the filesystem.