The sitting room is the only room in your house that is, in most cases, dedicated solely to leisure and it should therefore be both relaxing and elegant.
In many period houses the fireplace acts as a strong focal point for the living room, this should be made the most of as sitting areas benefit greatly from focal points. A functional fireplace is a real selling point, whether you have a country property with a log fire or a town house with an imitation coal-effect gas fire.
A fireless fireplace should also be made the most of, do not leave it lifeless, with some decorative pine cones or tasteful lighting it can become a real focal point. After all, in this day and age many fireplaces act only as a decorative piece anyway, rarely or never used for their original function.
With regard to the furnishing of the sitting area, you would ideally want the room to be kitted out with smart, modern, fabric upholstered items, but do not worry if this sounds impractical or unaffordable because there are plenty of low cost tricks that can help you to revamp or disguise old furniture.
Over the years your mantelpiece can collect an awful lot of clutter and although everything on your mantelpiece may have a special significance to you, potential buyers are not going to be impressed with some discoloured trophy or your 7 year old sons cracked clay model. By all means carefully store them away until you move but do not leave them on show, display only a few choice objects such as candles (tall ones often work best), a stylish collection of vases or a nice clock.
The focal point
Focal points are welcoming and give the room structure and a natural centrepiece. Fireplaces can be a really impressive focal point if given a little care and attention, any existing fireplace should be restored as this can really revamp your living area and if it is working, do the job properly and get the chimney swept.
If you have got that type of old-fashioned gas fire that reminds you of your grandma then remove it straight away, replacing it with a coal-effect fire in a traditional grate. If your fireplace has been blocked up, do not be tempted to leave it like that, simply unblock it, erect a simple shelf and insert a grate into the opened up space.
Decorating a non-functioning fireplace with a pile of logs, some pine cones, fairy lights or candles can be extremely effective and attractive. It matters more that your fireplace is aesthetically pleasing than functional, the radiator should do a good enough job of keeping the room warm and cosy for your viewers.
If your seating is falling apart or beyond repair it may be worth putting it into storage or simply throwing it out and hiring nice modern furniture for the benefit of your viewers. This is not usually necessary though as tired old sofas and chairs can more often that not be hidden and given a face lift by some inexpensive throws and some decorative cushions. Alternatively you could get them professionally recovered by a specialist.
If you are considering buying a new suite for your new house anyway think about buying it now, making your current place look nice for potential buyers, and then taking the new suite with you.
Too many chairs can make the room look busy, unstructured and unsettling. The traditional lounge suite of a sofa and two chairs is often too much for the modern living room, two sofas work better and so you should consider storing away any excess chairs and possibly investing in a new sofa from a chain store or hiring one. The addition of a low table, around which the furniture can be arranged, will give the room a coherent look.
There is no getting away from the fact that, however sophisticated you are, the television is going to be an important part of your living room. The key though is that it should not be seen as dominating or as the only important part of your living room. It is not necessary to hide your television away but it is worth remembering that the television should compliment the room, not the other way round. It is a sitting area, not a cinema.
Simple, light coloured curtains or some roman blinds will open up a room and prevent it from appearing gloomy. This can work to your advantage especially if you are selling in the summer.
The key to lighting a sitting area successfully is variation. A single, central pendant light will not suffice as it may do in other areas of the house. Wall and table lamps give your living room a much softer, cosier dimension and can be utilised greatly to your advantage if you are having any evening viewings.
Getting your carpets cleaned professionally can be less expensive than you think, if not, you can shampoo them yourselves but either way a dirty carpet can be really off putting for a potential buyer. Once they have associated your house with dirt it can be a hard association to ignore or see past, especially if it is subconscious. Ripping a carpet out that is past its best and cleaning up and sanding the floorboards beneath it is a better option than leaving it in, this way the buyer will see a blank canvas that can be easily altered to their taste.
A dining area
Finally, if there is no separate dining room or clear eating area in your kitchen, you may have to create a well-defined dining area in your sitting room.