START WITH THE FURNITURE.
It needs to be comfortable, stylish, and flexible. This rules out 90 percent of all furniture on the market.
For starters: A recliner is an argument with every woman who ever lived. Instead of putting a giant, cock-blocking marshmallow in your living room, buy good armchairs with footstools; perfectly comfy, and the ottoman doubles as another seat. Or, with a tray on it, a place to put pretzels and beers.
ON YOUR SOFA
Go conservative with color and (if any) pattern, and don’t go too big; a sofa needs to be only long enough for a nap. Plus, nobody likes sitting in the middle of the seat.
REGARDING SECTIONALS, AKA PARTY BARGES
They can be useful, if your room is big and the pieces can be arranged in different ways. Orient the chair(s) and the sofa in an L shape, rather than facing one another–the better to actually hear what other people are saying. And on cocktail tables, consider two or three small ottomans rather than one large, room-clogging slab of wood. Again: flexibility. Additional seating. Easier to move when the dancing starts.
FACT: THERE WILL BE SPILLS.
So, your main rug: highly patterned in dark colors. Hard to beat a classic Oriental. Also, consider a cowhide: masculine, interesting, unstainable.
STILL WORRIED ABOUT STAINS?
Don’t serve anything red or sticky. Also: Delicate wood surfaces are just water stains and heartaches waiting to happen. Plus, you’ll be that guy who runs around putting coasters under everybody’s drink. For tabletops: thick glass, stone, tile. On coasters: They need to be absorbent, or they’ll stick annoyingly to your glass. Wood or cork is nice. Fire up the chain saw and cut quarter-inch slices off a three-inch-diameter hardwood log–perfect.
A BAR CART IS STYLISH.
If you have space. But it’s easier and less messy to make drinks in the kitchen, where the ice and sink are. Happy medium: Get an ice bucket, and use the cart only for whiskeys while the rest of the bar lives in the kitchen. Put the bar and the table with food on opposite ends of the room. Promotes flow.
ATTRACTIVE FOLDING CHAIRS ARE HANDY.
But don’t provide seating for everyone. A good party depends on movement and flow; you don’t want people parked in the same chair all night. Figure on enough seating for a third of your guests.
IN THE BATHROOM
Light a candle; leave the matches. Go easy on the reading material; maybe a copy of Schott’s Miscellany. Offer a stack of small hand towels and a basket to toss them into; a single hand towel will be sopping (and unappealing) after the first three people use it.