Decorating with Sound
Thanks for following Renata’s work. I am her biggest fan, so welcome to the club. 😉
Renata is happily obsessed in finding ways to help you feel at home in your place. So she asked me to share with you my views on sound and how important it is in making you feel at home. Maybe I should rephrase that: how important sound is to make you feel. Period.
In this short article I will try to share with you the importance of sound in how we feel and a few tips that you can use when you think about decorating your house to be your own haven.
Did you know that sound can have a bigger impact in how we feel than sight? Since our early days as humans we have learnt that sudden, strange loud noises could be a threat to our lives, and we brace ourselves, run or prepare to fight. It impacts our mood and state of mind. The opposite happens when we hear silence or pleasing sounds like calm music or birds singing. World seems to be ok with us. We can rest or feel at ease.
Film directors and theatre producers know this all too well that music is really important to make us feel something. What would the famous kissing montage scene of Giuseppe Tornatore’s Cinema Paradiso be without Ennio Morricone’s exquisite violin strings making us unable to control our tears?
Or the people marching in Les Miserables without the soundtrack of Claude-Michel Schönberg triggering us to jump from our seats grab a flag and join them in their raging chant? “Do you hear the people sing? Singing the songs of angry men?” It is sound that gets to our heart and guts, and makes us feel.
Want proof? If you ever feel too afraid in a terror movie don’t turn it off. Turn the sound down, or off. There you go: Terror gone.
But it is not only terror that we feel. Everyday in cities nowadays the urban noises attack our feelings making us defensive, irritated, confused, stressed and even tired. Seeking for sound refuge from the street I am personally put off by places (restaurants, stores, theatres) with bad acoustics. Places that are noisy even when they have few people. Where sound seems to bounce all around us. We all know them. We all suffer them. But we musicians do have a trained ear about it. If you’ve ever been to a recording studio you will experience the lack of sound or silence is a beautiful sound. A calming, relaxing, protective and soothing sound.
So if sound is so important on how it makes us feel, what can we do about sound when we design our homes, our best place on earth?
SILENCE ABOVE ALL
The first thing is try to incorporate silence into your home. A few tips:
1. BLOCK. the outer noise. If you live in a busy street, try to incorporate insulated glass or double pane windows. If you don’t have them, your mind and body are suffering daily.
2. DRESS. If you cannot get the double pane windows, dress your windows with heavy fabric curtains. The heavier and larger the material the more sound it will absorb. If you have the double pane windows this is still a great plus.
3. CUDDLE. Besides curtains, rugs, upholstered furniture and pillows are silence’s best friends. They cuddle in the noise. The more you have them, the less noise. The more empty spaces and hard surfaces you have, more the noise will travel.
4. READ. Books are also great sound absorbers. Have you heard the silence in libraries? It is not only the reminding signs asking us for silence. The books impose it.
5. FOAM. A more technical material in cases of bigger rooms is soundproof panels. Usually made of some foam material. Restaurants have been applying them in roofs and inconspicuous places in their battle with noise. And some people have found creative ways to incorporate them in big family rooms or garages to make foosball and ping-pong sanely tolerable.
DESIGNING WITH SOUND
So now that we have left noise out and we have a silent place we have a clean canvas. What do we want to paint it with? What do you want you, your family or guests to feel? That is the beauty of sound. Your house can be many things at different times just changing the sound.
You do not need a very expensive sound system to have a decent sound nowadays. I will not get into technical gear, there is a lot that can help you to design that. What I want to help you with is having some ideas on what type of sounds to play. And notice that I say sounds since it is not only music you could play.
Yes, there are great music sources nowadays with great playlists. Spotify, Pandora, SoundCloud, AppleMusic, YouTube. When selecting the sounds, try to think about your objective. Here are a few tips:
- INVITE. Do you want to receive guests and need a calm place where to relax and talk? Maybe instrumental music works best. When you play vocals, whether it is opera or rock at minimum level, that singer in the room is trying to override your conversations. Some chill or lounge music can help. It can be soft classical or even soft jazz.
- CONCENTRATE.Do you need to work, study, concentrate? Instrumental music could still work, but did you ever try decorating with nature sounds? There are fewer more relaxing things than hearing the sounds of rain or a water creek, birds among nearby trees or the rolling waves in a tropical beach. There are many of these examples in those platforms. I can guarantee that when you put those kinds of sounds your heart rate will calm down.
- START THE DAY. Want to have a happier morning? Soft lively music instead of news while you have breakfast is a much better day starter to get you in the mood to head for your day.
I hope some of these tips can give you some conversation with friends and family and help you design your own sounds and make your place really feel like home. If you want to know more about how sound impacts us physiologically, cognitively and behaviorally, you might want to check out Julian Treasure’s TED talk.
If you feel you need help designing your space to feel better just drop a line to Renata. She can really help you out.
Have a great time!
You might also like this previous article: Rental Renovations that you can do in one weekend