By Robert Bundy
Are you tired of the roar of passing cars outside your home? Do the stomping feet of neighbors in your condominium complex make your blood pressure rise? Blaring televisions, the nagging whine of leaf-blowers, loud music; all of these things are capable of eroding quality of life at home.
Sound is an integral part of your home’s environment. No matter how masterfully you decorate your living space, unwanted noise can dominate your home, and ruin many of the simple pleasures of daily life. Luckily, there are a variety of remedies that can moderate intrusive noise, and make your home the private sanctuary you want it to be.
Inside Your Home
Here are some solutions to masking unwanted noise that intrudes on your peace and quiet.
Upgrade Your Windows. This is a big one, especially if you live near a busy street or intersection, or have neighbors that keep different hours than you do. Replacing older, single-pane windows with insulated double-pane windows can dramatically cut noise levels in your home. In addition, they add to your home’s value, and enhance its appearance.
Fans can do great job of creating a white-noise buffer to insulate you against unwanted sounds. Unfortunately, fans might not be appropriate for all seasons.
Soundscape Generators. There is a wide range of these devices available that block out unwanted noise by emulating all manner of sounds. For as little as $20, you can buy a tabletop soundscape generator that reproduces the sounds of a number of relaxing environments, such as the seaside, a forest, or a babbling brook, among others.
CDs that offer relaxing recordings of soothing and pristine environments are available. CDs are much higher-quality than most tabletop soundscape generators, and can sometimes be more effective at emulating environments at lower volumes. However, sound quality and effectiveness depends on the relative sophistication of your sound system.
Upgrade Insulation. If you have a particular room in your house that is excessively noisy, and the noise tends to intrude on other living areas, consider upgrading that room’s insulation. Laundry rooms, game rooms, and wherever your teenager has set up the drum set are all excellent candidates for increased insulation in interior walls. You might also consider adding weather stripping or replacing a hollow-core door with a solid, insulated one.
Outside the Home
Here are some suggestions on how to further disguise intrusive noise, and make your home feel more secluded and private.
Wind Chimes can create a pleasing sound that can help drown out undesirable noise from neighboring yards, traffic sounds, and the like. However, your neighbors may not appreciate wind chimes—avoid them if you live in a particularly windy or densely populated area.
Water Features such as fountains can help buffer noise, make areas seem more secluded, and add to a sense of relaxation.
High Hedges or Trees not only protect yards from prying eyes, they can also reduce noise. As an added bonus, there are few sounds more restful than a wind rustling the leaves of a tree.
A Garden Wall is an expensive solution, but for the level of privacy and noise reduction that it can provide, it can be well worth it. In addition to adding privacy, it can add to your home’s value, bolster your home’s security, and further enhance and personalize your outdoor environment.
Once you’ve solved the noises from without, take steps to keep noise within the home to more manageable levels. Coordinate with family members to allow everyone to indulge in any activities that aurally dominate the home—such as music lessons, band practices, or using a home workshop—according to a timetable that shows consideration for everyone.
The thoughtful use of headphones can make a huge difference to the peace and quiet of your home. Headphones allow family members optimal enjoyment of their own personalized environments, without intruding on others.
Music to Your Ears
Taking control of your home’s aural environment can mean sounder sleep, less interference with your favorite activities, and greater satisfaction and relaxation for you and your family.