8 Ways to Make Your Home a Quiet Zone

February 02, 2016

8 Ways to Make Your Home a Quiet Zone

Whether your soundscape includes boisterous neighbors, traffic, or even the dishwasher, everyday noise can be downright irritating. Research shows that it can also raise levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that can raise your blood pressure, suppress your immune system, and increase the risk of insulin resistance. At night, noise can also rob you of much-needed rest.

Still, noise stress is individual. What’s unnoticeable to one person may be grating to another. Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do to turn down the volume on noise you deem a nuisance, says Rebecca West, an interior designer and author of “Happy Starts at Home.” Here’s her sound advice for making your home a quiet zone.

1. Beef Up Your Window Treatments

Trinidad Window Curtain Panel
Trinidad Window Curtain Panel

Curtains aren’t just decorative. They can help absorb everything from the din of a noisy washing machine to street noise. For the best sound reduction, choose floor-to-ceiling curtains made from fabrics with texture, such as a woven tweed or velvet, and layer a sheer curtain under a heavier drape. “Keep the look streamlined with a grommet-style curtain, or add traditional flair with pleats or a valence,” West advises.

2. Fill the Void

A quick way to reduce sound transfer from room to room is to add mass to physically obstruct its travel. One way to do that is by replacing hollow-core doors with solid-wood ones. If that’s not in your budget, fill hollow doors with a spray-foam insulation.

3. Change the Color

Pure Country Birch Shadows Tapestry

Some hues are more active and energetic, such as reds, yellows, and oranges; while others, such as blues, purples, greens, and neutrals create a sense of calm. If your room always seems noisy, a difference in color can actually soothe the other occupants and encourage quieter voices. If you’d rather jazz up your walls without painting, consider textured wallpaper, or hang tapestries on the walls.

4. Cozy Up the Place With Rugs

Andrews Honeycomb Rug in Royal Blue
Andrews Honeycomb Rug in Royal Blue

Like curtains, area rugs help absorb sound. According to West, going bigger is almost always better. “Not only does a large rug look better because it anchors the room and ties your design together,” she says, “it absorbs sound in a dramatic way.” Add a runner to your stairs and hallway, too, to protect the floors and reduce the sound of clattering footsteps and paws.

5. Add Decorative Pillows

Goa Hand Embroidered Square Throw Pillow
Goa Hand Embroidered Square Throw Pillow

Pillows can make your sofa, loveseat, and chairs more inviting and block the transfer of sound waves.

6. Install Weatherstripping

To reduce noise transfer from the outside, mold stick-on rubber weatherstripping around exterior doors and window openings. Bonus: You’ll get a cut in your energy bill. You can also use weatherstripping around interior doors, such as the door to the laundry room. Weatherstripping comes in white, black, and brown, so it’s easy to match.

7. Drown Out the Din

Play a white-noise machine to mask whatever keeps you from falling asleep, such as your next-door neighbor’s raucous party or the rumble of the boiler room in your apartment building.

8. Tap Into Nature

“Not only do houseplants bring a visual sense of calm to a space and improve air quality, they also naturally dampen noise in a room,” West says.

Overall, even if you have a boisterous brood and the street sweeper is at it again, peace and quiet can be yours. Small changes like these can add up to make a big difference in your home’s decibel levels.

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