Forgive me, I am new to the boards and have learned so much here (I am faaaaaaaaar from ettiquette savvy.
Good LORD! Where is the good feeling of opening your home to a guest?? If you are that particular about your kitchen (it being the "heart" of a home and a natural gathering place), why have guests at all?
How crass to worry more about things being "just so" than about your guests feeling useful and appreciative of your efforts? If you are that particular, you should enjoy their company and leave straightening the kitchen until after the guests depart. I would hate when invited as a guest that someone made me feel unwanted in any way...... and would never return.
My father is the same way Auntie Venom is. My brother and I are the only ones allowed in the kitchen when he's cooking or anything- and occasionally, if he's working with something extra complicated, it cuts down to only me. It's not because he doesn't want to be social, it's for a few reasons:
1. The kitchen in his home is very small. Our family has learned to dance around each other, and if you add someone else into that, there will be people crashing into each other. That's why sometimes it's just me and my father. We're GOOD at doing multiple things in the tiny kitchen and reading each other's short words. Anyone else gets in there, things get dropped or spilled.
2. He is very particular about the kitchen. He's reloaded the dishwasher after I've done it, because it isn't right. He prefers doing it himself, so it gets done, then we can socialize in the living room with our guests.
It's not that we don't appreciate the offers, it's that, well, it's easier and more efficient to get it done our way. Things go in certain places. We do let guests who offer to help, help clear the table... and hand stuff to me or my brother as they enter the kitchen, or put it down and leave. We appreciate them, but, they are guests in our home.
By the way, this all goes double for my grandmother, unless she's making something for my very picky grandfather, and even then, it's usually when my dad isn't in the kitchen. They just can't work together on food- it's not that he doesn't appreciate the offer, it's that if she DOES help, they're liable to get into an argument. I'm the same way, except that I'm newly an adult, so I can't argue, instead I get frustrated.
The kitchen is not necessarily the "heart" of the home. Sometimes it is, but that's not true in every family (or every home!). Our guests enjoy the comfy chairs of our living room, and our hospitality in our dining room (the kitchen doesn't even have a table, by the way). We appreciate and enjoy guests, but that doesn't mean we have to let them into our kitchen.