Noise, Noise, Noise!

We are in the process of putting hardwood floors in our living room.   This is a long overdue improvement that will help that room catch up with the rest of our main level! The project, of course, means emptying all the rooms, not just for safety from dust, but to allow a buff and refinish coat to be applied everywhere.  I feel like I’m living in a ballroom with no acoustics!  It’s loud, it’s echo-y, it sounds like a Chipotle (I love Chipotle but those hard surfaces in their restaurants do make it loud!).  The last few days have made me think a little harder about balancing design aesthetics (especially popular minimalist spaces) with a pleasing environment.  Here are some of my notes:


  1.  Surfaces that absorb and diffuse sound are what create a rich sound environment.


2.  Hard surfaces like glass, metal, concrete are the worst at absorbing and diffusing sound.  In fact they reflect sound.

SPG Architects' modern living room

3.  Sound will sound best when it can properly bounce around.  The best shaped room for this is one in which the walls and ceiling height are all different. The worst would be a cube.  (I thought this was interesting and not intuitive.)


fireplace with beamed ceiling


4.  Irregular surfaces also help; for example bookshelves, especially on the walls with the speakers (if there are any) and then opposite that wall.


5.  Padded carpets or rugs, furniture with cushions, draperies, even canvas artwork all help absorb and diffuse, rather than reflect the sound.


So basically, when the area rugs go down, the sofas and chairs come back in and my draperies go back up I’ll not only be happier, I’ll know why!


Cozy transitional family room

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