A tall ceiling might make a room feel spacious and grand, but it can also lead to irritating echoes that make it hard to hold conversations or watch television with your family. The echoes are sound waves that bounce off of the ceiling's surface and reverberate around the room. Using design elements involving soft fabrics can help absorb those traveling sound waves, reduce room echoes, and give busy moms a chance for a little peace and quiet.
1. Soften Hard Floors
Rooms with high ceilings and hardwood, tile or concrete floors seem to amplify even the tiniest sound and send it echoing throughout the space. Soften the blow by laying down large area rugs made with long fibers or a dense natural material, such as sea grass or sisal. Placing a non-skid pad beneath the rug helps reduce the sound levels even more, while preventing kids from slipping and sliding as they run through the room. Installing plush wall-to-wall carpeting with a thick foam-rubber backing is another option, but it tends to be far more expensive and certainly more permanent than versatile area rugs.
2. Use Upholstered Furniture
Using furniture covered with plush, soft fabric also helps stop sound waves from bouncing off of hard surfaces. Soothe your aching ears by placing loveseats, sofas, cushy ottomans and overstuffed chairs throughout rooms with tall ceilings. Choose pieces upholstered with microfiber, denim or a cotton blend for a kid-friendly, low-maintenance living space. Avoid using furniture made of bare wood, glass, metal, vinyl or leather, all of which reflect and amplify sound waves rather than absorb them.
3. Cover the Windows
Exposed window panes promote room echoes, so cover the glass with multiple layers of fabrics to absorb traveling sound waves. Start off with a fabric shade that gives you a layer of protection against sound while offering your family a bit of privacy. Add lined and interlined drapery panels made of thick wool, velvet, hemp, burlap, jacquard or brocade fabric. Top the draperies with a soft fabric swag or valence for a decorative, sound-absorbing touch.
4. Hang Wall Art
Bare wall surfaces combined with tall ceilings can turn a room into an echo chamber. Installing acoustical panels covered in a decorative fabric is one unique yet attractive solution to deadening reverberating sounds. Large decorative pieces such as pretty tapestries, oriental rugs or antique quilts can also hang on walls to help soak up annoying echoes, but a piece needs to be at least 1 inch thick to give you optimal results. Place a padded acoustical absorber behind any wall hanging that needs added thickness. Avoid using mirrors and framed artwork covered with glass, because those pieces provide yet another hard surface that promotes room echoes.
5. Accessorize Smartly
The more layers of fabric you add to a high-ceiling room, the quieter the space should become. Add runners or tablecloths to hard tables, and scatter cushy pillows, floor cushions or soft throws around the room to break up flat spaces and absorb traveling sound waves. Avoid using so much fabric that the room looks cluttered or feels oppressively hushed. If at least 25 percent of the room includes some sort of soft fabric, you should notice a definite reduction in room echoes.
- University of Washington Extension: Controlling Home Noise
- Mother Earth Living: The Sound of Silence-- How to Reduce Home Noise
- Forbes: Quiet, Please! How to Cut Noise Pollution At Home
- Woodridge Custom Builders, LLC: Loud Room Interiors...Does Your Home Echo?
- Acoustical Surfaces, Inc.: Noisy Residential Spaces
- Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images