It's Oh So Quiet

Hitting your head on the chandelier: so not gonna happen. (Diana Kennedy Interiors, Laurie Hunt Photography)

It’s always fun to watch “House Hunters” and hear the comments the homebuyers make that, well let’s face it, sound downright silly. Occasionally these silly remarks stem from the fact that it’s not every day you spend time in an empty house.

One that made me want to face plant was from the guy that said that the dining room chandelier had to go because he would always be banging his head on it. He did not seem to take into account that usually there would be a dining table underneath it protecting his temples from making contact with that light fixture. In another episode, a woman said that she didn’t think that she could deal with the constant echo in the home’s barren great room. That problem will be instantly remedied when furnishings are brought into the space.

However, in reality, for those of you living in a multi-unit building, reducing the noise factor can make the difference between receiving free cookies from your neighbors or frustrated visits from your landlord or condo committee.  If this is a particular concern for you, here are a number of ways in order to cut down on the commotion in your home.

It's important to know what causes noise to carry in the first place. The principle of how sound works in a space is similar to the concept of energy movement in feng shui -- it needs a direct path in order to stay active. Adding items in the room of various heights and textures will stop noise dead in its tracks. Tall bookcases with a mix of books and beloved knickknacks will assist in dissipating reverberations in the room.

The use of fabrics is also valuable when absorbing sound. Window treatments, particularly heavy, interlined drapes and blackout curtains are great for this. Use fabric instead of leather furniture for better sound absorption. Hang tapestries or blankets on the wall, and choose canvas art instead framed prints. Carpet is ideal for noise absorption, but rugs work well on hardwood floors -- the larger the better (larger rugs look nicer too). For an added bonus, it’s now trendy and acceptable to place a rug on carpet or to layer your rugs.

A Little Bit Softer Now: applying fabrics through furniture, window treatments, rugs, and accessories while filling bookcases with various sized objects. A Little Bit Louder Now: Barking (but adorable) dog. (Diana Kennedy Interiors, Diane Anton Photography)

Lastly, if your rental/HOA agreement allows, make sure your windows are properly sealed in order to prevent sound from coming in from the outside. Up-to-date insulation is an important item for house hunters as well, with a wonderful side benefit being the decrease in your energy bill.

Hopefully by applying these techniques you will enjoy a great relationship with your neighbors. When you do, I hope you will invite me over for cookies.

xo, dk

Title Reference: "It's Oh So Quiet" by Bjork, Post, 1995.