The ability to perceive sound is a gift. Like all senses, it can produce immense pleasure and it can annoy you like crazy. There is a big difference between the volume produced by your favorite band in a classic venue and the volume produced by a house full of screaming family. It has less to do with the fact that your family is speaking in conflicting tones and more to do with the fact that the music venue was designed to sound great, whereas your kitchen, loaded with hard surfaces, handles sound much more poorly.
But why doesn’t your home sound great? It’s just an oversight. Most homes aren’t designed to handle sound, but you can take care of that by yourself, quite affordably. There are simple things you can do to take care of the noise pollution in your home and create a much more comfortable gathering space.
Acoustical panels in the Living Room
In most modern houses, the living room is the largest room in the home, making it a natural gathering spot. You’ve got a big TV and couches in there. What’s not to love? Open spaces with hard walls may look inviting, but they don’t handle sound well, and if you have hardwood floors to boot, you may have a bit of an echo chamber on your hands. Some well-placed acoustic panels will go a long way. You want to cover the hardest, most reflective surfaces, so the walls and ceiling are obvious targets. Keep in mind, you don’t want to completely soundproof the room, as that creates a silence that can be equally unsettling.
Sound bounces around the room like a racquetball, so by treating adjacent walls with acoustic panels, you can effectively reduce the amount of reverberation and echo. Since the majority of noise bouncing around the room comes from peoples’ mouths, it’s a good idea to focus wall treatments at mouth level, or somewhere in the range of 3-7 feet above the floor. You don’t want to completely cover the walls, but mixing them up on larger surfaces is sure to create the desired effect.
Not all acoustic panels are created the same. Make sure any acoustic panel you choose to hang are wrapped with acoustically transparent fabric, which allows the soundwaves to penetrate the sound-absorbing material behind it. If the fabric reflects sounds, it doesn’t do a whole lot of good to you. If you can blow air through the fabric, it’s likely transparent. This is a spot where you want to make sure to purchase high-quality products since lower quality panels don’t absorb and trap sounds as effectively.
Since sound travels in more of an expanding cone than a straight line, a few acoustic panels made for the ceiling, paired with a nice rug will help keep noise a little further at bay. If you have a textured ceiling, it may help a little, but adding a few ceiling panels adds a whole new level of texture to the ceiling, and makes it much more impressive to look at. When you incorporate sound-absorbing materials, you won’t find your conversation competing with the music, so you can set the mood without creating a shouting match.
People also love to gather in the kitchen. It smells good. That’s where the drinks are. There’s usually a table and chairs somewhere. It also has lots of smooth surfaces that are easy to clean. That means it also tends to get loud when you start getting close to capacity. A nice set of designer acoustical curtains could be helpful here. Since the walls are usually lined with reflective appliances, cupboards, and countertops, you likely have less room to work with. The curtains can help with windows, which can be large and are very acoustically reflective. This is another great room for ceiling panels, which give your ceiling a great new texture and add dimension to your kitchen.
Acoustical panels for the Bedroom
Do you or your partner snore? Does the noise seem to echo and amplify when the other is trying to sleep? It probably does. Think about adding a few acoustic panels to your decor. They look great in the bedroom, and they come in enough styles that you’ll have no problem finding something to match your space. Again, make sure they are wrapped with acoustically transparent fabric, and you’ll find new peace that will help you relax and sleep better. The fabric also pulls a little double duty with absorbing some of the light in the room, making it feel more tranquil.
The Utility Room
Whether your utility room is in the basement or on the main floor, chances are, some of the large machinery in there makes noise that you may have to compete with. You can quiet the machinery with moving parts, like your washer and dryer, with things like pads or mounts. The less the machine moves, the less noise it will make. Another issue arising out of the utility room is noise associated with your HVAC system. There are many different products for quieting a noisy HVAC system, so bring your questions, and we can devise a plan that works for your unique situation.
Adding quality acoustic panels wrapped with acoustically transparent fabric is a great addition to any room where you are gathering, listening to music, or just want some peace and quiet. They look great, are easily matched to your decor, and they create the kind of attention to detail that affects you and your guests on a subconscious level. They create a mood that you can achieve with a few other products. Try some out in the common areas of your house, and you’re sure to pick up a stack for the rest of the house.