You can have it both ways: comfortable and easy to care for. Start with upholstered pieces that you can curl up in. Choose soft fabrics with lots of texture and pattern that will do double-duty, providing a cozy retreat while hiding soil and stains. Everyday soiling is much more evident with plain cotton or solid color fabrics. And, as always, darker colors are more forgiving than light pastels.
Also, be sure to choose upholstery weight fabrics, that is, durable textiles created especially for furniture. Avoid thinner fabrics like cotton chintz if you are looking for products that will hold up to everyday use.
Carpet is easy to maintain if you select a type that suits your lifestyle. If you currently have wall-to-wall carpet, study the areas that are showing wear and soiling. Think like a facilities manager of a commercial property. When they replace carpet, they look at what was installed and how it performed. Think about color and how it could disguise those soiled areas.
Like fabric, a carpet with pattern or texture will hide soil and stains better than a solid color. Medium tones are better than light colors for hiding everyday dirt. Give dark colors a chance - they may show lint and dust, but vacuuming easily takes care it. (And it goes without saying that regular vacuuming is the most important thing you can do to keep your home looking good.)
Don't shy away from paint or wallpaper – both can work in an easy-to-care-for home. Just avoid flat finish paints since they are difficult to wash. Use an eggshell or satin finish and always buy good quality paint. Choose wall coverings that are washable. Once again, pattern, texture and color play a roll in disguising wear and tear, and less than perfect walls.
Minimize clutter. "Less is more" and will make clean up easier if you have less to dust around. Many people find that simplifying their lives and homes keeps everyday stress in check. Keep some areas of your home as "no dumping" zones: no book bags in the dining room. Gym bags go to the laundry room or bedroom.
Lastly, enjoy your home. You've made it a comfortable retreat for your family – take the time to enjoy your efforts! Reward yourself by entertaining at home more often. Throw easy potluck dinners, host a wine tasting or organize a block party.