When you’re improving your home, it’s easy to focus on the visual element, but other senses come into play too. Most people spend most of their time in their homes, even after the pandemic, as more and more individuals work from home. So, you need to make sure that you focus on every sense, including sound.
The sounds and noises we experience within our homes are often overlooked, considered an incidental part of our everyday living environment. Yet, the quality of these sounds, their clarity, volume, and the echo they create, all contribute to our home’s acoustics, shaping not just our auditory experience but influencing our comfort, well-being, and even productivity.
Improving the acoustics in our homes is, therefore, not a mere luxury or reserved only for audiophiles. It is a crucial aspect of home design and improvement that carries practical and psychological benefits, providing an enhanced listening experience, effective noise control, and a harmonious living environment conducive to relaxation and focused work.
Whether you love listening to loud music, or you just want to make your home sound better, here are some simple tips to improve the acoustics in any property.
Why are acoustics so important in the home?
While acoustics might not seem particularly important, especially if you’re not a professional musician or someone who thinks about sound a lot, here are some reasons why they matter:
- Improved sound quality: Whether it’s music, movies, or everyday conversations, good acoustics can enhance the clarity and quality of sounds in your home. This is particularly beneficial for those who watch a lot of TV or love listening to music. Also, if you work remotely, better sound can make for improved meetings and video recordings.
- Noise reduction: Effective acoustics can help to control and reduce noise pollution within your home, which can be especially beneficial in a busy neighbourhood, a house near a main road, or a property with many inhabitants who aren’t always the most considerate.
- Well-being and comfort: Poor acoustics can lead to high levels of noise, echoes, and reverberations, which can cause stress, discomfort, and even negatively impact mental health over time. Improving your home’s acoustics can contribute to a calmer, more comfortable living environment.
- Productivity boost: In spaces such as a home office, the importance of acoustics cannot be overstated. A quieter environment with less distracting noises can significantly aid focus and productivity.
- Enhanced communication: Clear acoustics can improve speech intelligibility, making it easier for everyone in the house to communicate effectively. This is particularly beneficial for those with hearing impairments or elderly residents, as well as anyone who works from home and takes a lot of calls.
Now you can see the many benefits of optimising your home’s acoustics, here are some simple ways you can go about this vital task. While soundproofing is the obvious choice, it’s not ideal for most residential properties, and can be incredibly costly, so here are some practical, simple approaches that anyone can try.
Protect your windows from external noise
The most significant cause of noise in most homes usually comes from outside. That might include busy roads or noisy neighbours, which can disturb you and your family. To help, you could consider using heavy curtains to block out sound. Heavy curtains or drapes can act as effective sound absorbers, reducing the amount of noise entering from the outside and also minimising echo within a room by absorbing sound waves. This absorption is due to the dense, often multi-layered fabric used in these types of window treatments, which catches and dissipates sound energy.
For additional soundproofing, you might want to consider adding window inserts. These are clear panes of glass or acrylic that fit into the interior of your existing window frames, adding an extra layer of sound insulation. They’re particularly effective at blocking out external noise from traffic, construction, or loud neighbours, so they’re ideal if you live in a heavily congested area and have a room where someone is particularly sensitive to noise, such as a child’s bedroom.
Install carpet underlay
When you’re replacing your old flooring, it’s easy to think that you can save a little bit of cash by skipping the underlay for your carpets. However, a high-quality underlay will absorb more of the sound, meaning that it will insulate those in rooms below you from the noise of people stomping around above. It will also reduce the vibrations, making your home feel more comfortable generally. Carpet underlay has many other benefits, including improving the lifespan of your carpet, so it’s worth exploring the range from SimplyUnderlay to find the right option for you.
Using the right carpet underlay is a highly effective method to improve the acoustics of your home, so it’s worth taking the time to select the perfect product from an extensive range like this. By reducing noise transmission and echo, it contributes to a quieter, more enjoyable living environment while also enhancing comfort and prolonging the life of your carpet, so even if you’re not sure if it’s worth it, you should definitely consider using carpet underlay for your next flooring project.
Use wall-to-wall bookshelves
Everyone has dreamed of an in-home library at some point, but it can be difficult to justify the expense. Thankfully, large wall bookshelves not only provide a great storage solution but can also help in improving room acoustics. The irregular surface of books can help scatter sound waves, reducing echo and reverb. A well-stocked bookshelf essentially provides a multitude of varying surfaces and materials (the books themselves), which makes it an excellent sound diffuser.
Besides their functional benefits, bookshelves can also add to the aesthetic appeal of the room. They provide a way to improve acoustics without altering the room’s aesthetics or using overtly specialised equipment like acoustic panels, which can make your space feel like a sound studio. So, now’s your chance to get the home library you’ve always dreamed of.
Stock up on pot plants
As odd as it might sound, plants can be an ideal way to block sound in your home. That’s because plants can absorb, diffract and reflect sound waves. The leaves, stems, and wood of a plant can absorb sound vibrations, reducing the intensity of the noise. Larger plants with broad leaves are generally more effective at absorbing and diffusing sound due to their larger surface area. When choosing new plants for your home to help absorb excess noise, you should check out this list. You also need to consider where you put your foliage, as strategically placing these plants in corners or against walls can enhance their sound-absorbing capabilities, as these are areas where sound waves are often concentrated.
A brief summary
To sum up, the acoustics in our homes play an indispensable role in our daily lives, significantly affecting our mood, productivity, and overall living experience. From the tranquillity of a well-insulated bedroom that guarantees restful sleep, to the vibrant resonance of a home theatre delivering lifelike sounds, good acoustics are a quality-of-life enhancer. Even those in normal homes, who don’t have large home theatres and music studios, need to think about the acoustics of their homes to make them more comfortable for working and living in.
As this article shows, investing time and resources into improving your home’s acoustics is more than worth the effort, providing dividends in well-being and satisfaction for years to come. So, take a moment to listen to your home – it might be time for an acoustic makeover.