You’ve been looking forward to Sunday morning all week…just you, the newspaper, and a cup of coffee. A little peace and quiet after a long week. Quiet, that is, except for the kids’ incessant arguing, the rhythmic thumping of the washing machine, the day’s news spilling out of a nearby television and the energetic bark of your neighbour’s beloved Jack Russell Terrier.
We’re inundated by sound all day. Our workplaces resonate with voices, keyboards, telephones, photocopiers and printers. And our modern homes are open-plan spaces filled with the appliances, people and pets that play the frenzied soundtrack to our frantic lives. It’s no wonder then, that one of the most widely predicted interior decoration trends this year is that we’ll turn our homes into sanctuaries. With that in mind, here are five great ways to quieten your home:
1. Use materials that absorb sound
Simply put, a sound is a vibration that causes the movement of particles in the air as waves. We hear sound when these waves reach and vibrate our eardrums.
Typically, hard surfaces such as tiles, hardwood and concrete reflect these waves causing them to bounce around a room. Conversely, soft surfaces such as carpets, rugs, soft furnishings and curtains absorb sound by eliminating or dampening the soundwaves that hit them. Using more absorptive materials in your home will reduce the movement of sound within a room and the transfer of sound from one space to the next.
2. Find gaps and seal them
Sound will travel into your home through structural gaps. One way to find these gaps is to listen out for them at different times of day. Switch off any equipment that add to the ambient noise in a room and examine doors, windows, walls, ceilings and floors. When you find a gap, seal it with an appropriate acoustic sealant (specialists in hardware stores should be able to advise you on the best types of sealant for your home).
3. Choose quieter appliances
When it comes time to replace that trusty old fridge, find one with a low decibel rating. It isn’t common for manufacturers and retailers to publish decibel ratings for all their products but a quick search online should give you some idea about how loud or quiet an appliance is. If possible, place noisy appliances like washing machines away from bedrooms and sit them on sound absorbing rubber pads available from your hardware retailer.
4. Adjust the settings on your television and sound system
You can change the settings on your television and sound system to direct and not disperse sound. Surround sound options tend to fill a room with sound which is great when you’re in front of the television enjoying Hollywood’s latest effects-laden blockbuster, but not so great when you’re in an adjoining room trying to read a book while Sylvester Stallone goes about saving the world by blowing things up! Tweaking sound settings and placing your sub woofer on carpet or a similar noise dampening material should help.
5. Schedule one technology-free night a week
This may not be for all of us but agreeing to go without the television, mobile phone, tablet, stereo and laptop for one night a week can make a big difference. Numerous studies now point to the potentially detrimental effects of our over exposure to light and sound. Replacing the cold white glow of our screens and the noise of our technology with conversation and books for just a few hours a week may be the remedy we all need.