Ricki! She sent in her answer via e-mail and I posted it on the comments, but here it is…
Having a comfortable home that's kid-friendly and dog-friendly has always been our focus and sometimes a challenge. When we have guests, we want them to make themselves at home, to feel at ease and relaxed.
These are the rules we've tried to keep:
1. Make sofas and chairs comfortable enough to curl up in, but durable enough to withstand spills, etc. I don'[t want to have to worry if someone puts their feet up, or is juggling wine and drippy food.
2. Choose floor coverings that are forgiving, i.e. glazed Mexican tile in the kitchen---nothing shows on it! Hardwood if possible with, preferably old, Oriental or Oriental-style rugs. Ditto, nothing shows!
3. Slipcover chairs and sofas if possible. I actually have a Mitchell Gold sofa in our house in Canada from Pottery Barn (one of the only benefits to living in Memphis is that they have a Pottery Barn Outlet and used to have warehouse sales with unbelievable discounts!). It and the chairs are covered in an off white twill. The slipcovers have survived everything from chocolate, mud, red wine spills--and we're talking about an entire glass! The savior was soaking for 4 days in Oxyclean and washing in the machine and drying in the sun.
4. If you don't like slipcovers, we have ultra-suede type on our sofas in Memphis. I actually took samples of the fabric, allowed Winston and Georgia, our Shar Peis to drool on it (Winston especially drools like a bulldog), let it dry and wiped it with a damp cloth. Voila, no stains! The damp cloth really takes out the worry.
5. Give people things to look at in your home: stacks of books, gatherings of found objects, a grouping of photos or small painting, manageable groups of something you collect. etc. Make it warm with little vignettes that draw the eye and make people want to pick it up and look at it or touch it. It doesn't need to be fine art, just something interesting or feels good in a tactile way.
7. Always have plenty of food and drink. It doesn't have to be the best wine or the fanciest food, just let friends and family feel welcome. Don't be absent in the kitchen, choose things that can be prepared ahead of time or things that your friends can make themselves: fondue, spring rolls, tacos. Or have a big pot of soup, gumbo, stew, or chili. 8. Let music set the mood, but don't overpower conversation.
9. Have furniture close enough so people can really talk to each other.
He and I both make ourselves comfortable, regardless of where we are!