There are few things more frustrating than moving into a cute new apartment that has all the comforts of home, sports newly renovated facilities, and suits you to a “t”… only to discover that the acoustics are bad: you hear echoes, and the ceilings and floors reverberate so sharply that a simple walk through overhead can be likened to a herd of elephants charging. If this is happening to you, don’t despair. Simply keep your wits about you and get creative. Where there’s a will, apartment dweller, there’s a way! Ready, set….let’s noise-proof your apartment!
Simple steps to take:
- Think outside the box and keep it Feng Shui. We don’t only want to noise-proof, but to beautify and harmonize at the same time. Why not use linen…and lots of it? Adapt the novel idea of an Aussie Laundromat-turned-coffee shop* and buy up tons of little tea towels…and arrange them near your ceiling and walls. If your ceilings and walls have a porous enough material, you’ll be able to staple gun your tea towels in place.
- Taking the linen/fabric idea further, why not use thick, handwoven rugs on the walls? These are especially colorful and cheery, and so will brighten up your space. Area rugs on the floor also absorb some noise that may be originating in the ceiling or walls, and travelling through the floorboards. Layer the area rugs to get maximum noise-proofing. You might even try placing fabric or rugs underneath your tables. Every little bit of noise absorption and echo-removal helps. In a pinch, those rolls of foam that are sold to be placed under your mattress for extra support can be place on your walls….and, if you don’t need to open your windows, over your window blinds or coverings.
- Corkboards work to muffle noise, as do insulation materials. Affix the material yourself or have an expert do it (or at least show you how; while you’re at it, ask if the material can be removed, for when you move out.) Insulation panels can be glued to a wall. Soundproof sheet rock might also be installed. This would be permanent. Remember that you’re renting…is the landlord OK with this?
- Wool…thick, fleecy wool…also absorbs noise. Add wool to walls, floors, ceilings…anywhere and everywhere. You might even consider laying a few pieces of wool on the floor in your walk-in closet. You’ll see how quickly the wool reduces echoes…which means it will readily help absorb ambient noise.
- Place rugs everywhere you walk, and don’t wear shoes when you’re home. Position a large basket at the door and point it out to all your guests as the receptacle for shoes. “House rule!” you’ll say, cheerily. Politely ask your upstairs neighbors to likewise implement a no-shoes policy. Not only will removing your shoes reduce noise, but it will also keep your home germ-free. Ever think about what you’re bringing indoors when you walk around in your shoes? Nothing you’d want to breathe in.
- When it comes to window coverings, forget the sheer. Go for burlap or canvas. There are actually sound-absorbing curtains or acoustic curtains on the market that serve just this purpose. Google: acoustic curtains.
- Did you ever think of hanging pillows from your ceiling? Clean, pillow-case-less pillows artfully hung in an overlapping design or used as a headboard–a number of European designers have played around with this concept**–or just piled one next to the other will muffle much of the noise. You’ll have to affix clips to the wall, and hang the pillows that way. Or hang a comforter on the wall…one of those plump, cushiony ones will do the trick.
- Weather stripping closes up gaps and reduces noise if music or conversation is seeping out from floor-to-frame openings in the next room. Simply place the adhesive-backed stripping along the length of the door frame. This method is also useful if you are legally subletting a bedroom and you wish to provide your sub-letter with a bit more privacy.
And there you have it. Think “cushiony”…the more linen-laden, wool-wrapped or foam festooned (even weather-stripped), the better. Spend some time on the project and, before you can say: Ah! The Sounds of Silence! your noise reduction issue should have effectively resolved itself.
Remember: think positively.
*The Coin Laundry, in Armadale (Australia). Story here: http://www.remodelista.com/posts/hotels-lodging-restaurants-coin-laundry-in-melbourne
**Pillows as a headboard and more: