A lounge or living room can be many things: a place to entertain friends, to watch television, listen to the radio or read a book. Above all it is a place to relax. On seeing the lounge a potential buyer will mentally remove the furniture, replace it with their own and ask themselves this key question: can I relax in this room?
Of course this is subjective. But a room free of mess, in neutral colours is far more likely to appeal to a potential buyer than a highly individualised, cluttered room.
The first step is to look at the room's basics and ensure that they are retained. These are comfortable chairs including a sofa, a TV, perhaps a coffee table. Then look at what's left and ask is it necessary? Does a stack of old magazines, DVDs in boxes on the floor or nearly full ashtrays really add anything to the room?
Try and avoid mixing styles. A modern-style fireplace with period features, such as Victorian picture rails, does not work. Although not essential, it is worth considering replacing the room's out of place fixtures.
Fireplaces are also important, as often they are the centre of the room. Most homes do not have a traditional open fire, but these are increasingly desirable. If opening up the chimney is possible and cheap, consider it as an option. If your fireplace is home to a more modern type of fire, make sure you show that it works even in summer.
Mantlepieces should always be kept clear, perhaps only two items, candlesticks or a vase, rather than a collection of trophies and junk mail.
If there is no fireplace a living room needs another centre point. There is nothing wrong with this being the TV, but ensure that it is not on when showing prospective buyers around. This can be distracting.
When showing a room during the day ensure there is as much natural daylight as possible. A lounge that needs lights on in the middle of a sunny day is not appealing so make sure blinds are up and curtains are open. If the room is naturally dark or a viewing takes place in the early evening or late afternoon in winter then ensure there is a variety of lighting. Lamps create a relaxing atmosphere, bright lights do not.
Finally ensure that carpets are clean: consider hiring carpet cleaning equipment. This is inexpensive but effective.