Home, Quiet Home

You don’t have to invite noise into your house. Try these tips to dial down the volume.

Most of our days are filled with noise—on the street, in the office, on mass transit or on the freeway. And chronic noise is more than annoying. Studies have shown it can actually increase stress, even at low levels.

So when we come home, all we want is some peace and quiet. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Whether the source is loud neighbors and construction outside, or noisy appliances and music-loving teenagers inside, our homes aren’t always the haven we’d like them to be.

Here are some ways to enjoy the sound of silence in your home:

Insulate, insulate, insulate. If you’re building a home or willing to remodel, try adding a double wall or dropped ceiling. An extra layer of drywall can work too. If your kids have a playroom, try acoustical wall panels to create a sound barrier.

Redecorate. It doesn’t have to be a complete do-over, but adding carpeting, rugs or heavy drapes can absorb and reduce noise. You might also consider hanging decorative rugs on the walls, especially if you live in an apartment and can’t make structural changes. Heavy padded furnishings help absorb noise, too.

Block it out. There are many ways to muffle or eliminate exterior noise. Try double-pane windows, storm doors and weather stripping. Also, caulk around windows and seal any other cracks in the home that could be letting in noise.

Be appliance-smart. Modern appliances are getting quieter, but it’s still wise to insulate the area around the dishwasher and place rubber mats under other appliances to reduce the noise they generate.

Create a fortress. Trees, hedges and fences can help keep outdoor noises from getting into your home. Or you might prefer hearing the soothing sound of a fountain over whatever else is out there.

Speak up. You’d be surprised how much extra noise audio speakers can make when they sit on the floor, especially hardwood or tile. Buy stands or rubber mats to place under them.

Quiet down. Especially if you live in an apartment, be as quiet as you can—your neighbors just might get the hint. Even if you live in a house, consider establishing quiet hours. Another way to reduce noise is to turn off your phone ringer and use headphones when listening to music or watching TV.

Block it out. If your neighborhood is just plain noisy, a white noise machine can create an illusion of silence in your home.

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