How to improve home acoustics

When concrete floors and less-is-more furnishings have turned your house into an echo pit, interventions are needed to improve the acoustics.

With some simple adjustments in the right places, you can mute the sound to a comfortable level and change the way your home sounds and feels.

When decorating a room, we tend to focus on the looks. Later we find out that our living room, kitchen or home workplace sounds awful. There's an annoying echo that makes you want to lower your voice. Our head feels full, and sometimes even overwhelmed.

How do acoustics work?

Sound reverberates more in one room than in another. This is mainly due to the size of the room and the materials used in it. Some objects absorb sound, other materials reflect it. And if you have a little too much stuff from the latter category, you get the infamous echo.

Sound is reflected by hard finishes such as concrete floors, walls and windows. The sound is absorbed by the use of soft materials, such as curtains or a carpet. Much nicer if you don't want to hear yourself twice when you're having a conversation or dropping something. In fact, the more fabrics, the better the acoustics. And you can bring these into your home in different ways.

Here you find our 5 tips for quick and easy improvements.

5 tips to improve home acoustics

  1. Cover up hard surfaces, like concrete flooring, with a nice rug
  2. Hang curtains over any large windows
  3. Add decorative items, like plants, books, paintings.
  4. Apply wall coverings that absorb sound
  5. Choose soft fabrics over hard materials like leather and steel

A quick update on acoustics first (scroll down if this is not for you):

When a room has an echo or sounds hollow, this is due to a phenomenon called reverberation. We don't want to dive too deep into physics, so here's a simple summary:

When you talk or make a sound, a sound wave is created. When it hits a surface, such as your walls, it bounces back at you in different directions. This creates the infamous echo.

Many factors affect echo, such as room size and materials used. Some objects absorb sound (soft fabrics, curtains, rugs), other materials reflect it (concrete floors, plaster walls, tiles, steel/leather). So if you have a little too many items from the latter category, you get the infamous echo.

Ideally, a room should have at least two non-reflective walls and lots of nice things to diffuse the sound. It stops reflections building up, interacting with each other and causing acoustic chaos.

Dealing with the high and medium frequency reflections can be handled by absorbers. Don't worry if a wall or ceiling is particularly reflective, as long as the opposite surface is absorbent.

Rug

A rug not only creates a homey atmosphere, it is also a good sound absorber. It's one of the easiest ways to improve the acoustics, so it's a real win-win. Perhaps the hardest thing about this item is choosing from the huge range. You choose a thick, high-pile rug in a large size, if you really want to notice a difference.

Curtains

Large windows are nice for light, but they are terrible for the acoustics. Especially if you choose blinds as window decoration. Curtains in all shapes and sizes work best as a absorber with poor acoustics. These can be roller blinds, roman blinds or so-called duettes, as long as they consist of fabric. A minimalist interior can use such a soft touch counterpart.

Decorations

That annoying echo can be very persistent, especially in large rooms. Do you still hear an echo? Then get started with accessories to absorb even more sound and reduce reverberation. Think of large plants, a bookcase, vases filled with flowers and paintings on the wal.

You like a minimalist design better? Don't want to add too many accessories to improve the acoustics in your home? Acoustics still not in the right place?

Then you might want to consider sound-absorbing wallpaper.

It absorbs the sound and break the reflection of sound waves. If you a sound-absorbing wallpaper in the same color schema as your home decor, it will hardly stand out! But you don't have to hide it. It can look spectacular. Check it out here

Soft couches and fabric chairs

Get your big pieces in soft materials, decide on a large fabric sofa or chairs with fabric upholstery. Choose soft fabrics like linnen, wool and cotton over hard materials like leather.Prefer a leather sofa? Then use fabric cushions to muffle the sound.