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Guest Post: Jennifer Hannotte on the Acoustic Home

Covet Garden is happy to present another insightful post by interior stylist Jenn Hannotte of Russet and Empire Interiors. Jenn believes in accessible and collaborative design that stems from narratives we create with objects we love. Her work has been featured in Design Lines Remodelista, Apartment Therapy and the Marion House Book to name a few. She lives with her two daughters in the West End of Toronto.

When we sit down to design our interior spaces we are mostly concerned with the visuals:  how this chair will 'go' with this carpet and that table with those drapes on and on and on. We consider scale, texture, style, function. We obsess over colour. But, something that is often over-looked are the acoustic qualities of our homes. There are two ways to consider sound in your home, ambient and intended. 

Each are important in weaving together the feeling of 'home' and are integral to the over-all design of a space. Some of my favorite ambient sounds are the clanging of dishes and the quiet chatter I can over-hear from my neighbours open windows after dinner, in the summer. I love the squeak of the floor just outside my youngest daughters bedroom door. I know how the water sounds as it drains from the tub; that strange burp near the end. Every home has it's own acoustic characteristics, those sounds that we become so familiar with that they become ubiquitous.

Of course, sound can also drive some of us crazy. Like the gorgeous, but LOUD caesarstone countertop in my last home. Every pot, plate and spoon made such a huge sound that echoed out in the open-concept space that it never felt cozy. The marble Saarinen table, the metal stools, everything in that kitchen screamed. In this home, I've made conscious sound-related decisions when renovating and decorating. The kitchen is completely clad in sound-absorbing wood, and I love the hollow-thud from the butcher-block counter tops. It sounds, and as a result, feels completely different from the old home. And what I mean by that, is that if you blindfolded me and had me cook in each kitchen, I would describe each experience completely differently.

The things you can do to control the kind of sound you like to live with range from huge, structural things (cathedral ceilings, open-concept living), and the materials you choose for your flooring and other surfaces. Take a look at these kitchens and imagine how they sound. Do the sounds conflict with how you feel about the aesthetic?

The acoustics in the home also includes smaller things,  things often tied to memory: like the sound of a clock (something I'm searching for now, the perfect tick-tock for my living room to remind me of my grandma's home) or, wind chimes hung in the garden, a thick wool rug in the bedroom that shh's against the bottom of the door as you close it.

[images: 1, 2 Angus Fergusson; 3 Geoff Parker; 4 Architectural Digest: 5 acoustic-garden; 6 beautiful soup; 7 brown dress white dots]

Do you consider the sound in your home? What are some of your favourite noises your home makes?

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Reader Comments (4)

Brava! I fascinating aspect of design - who hasn't walked through an echoing, clattering show house?

I love the almost imperceptible murmur from my woodstove, the ticking of my clocks, the clacking of sheets on masts in a strong wind from the marina opposite, the joyful dogs on one side and bottles in the bin on the other telling me what my neighbours are doing, splashes and calls from the ducks, egrets and stilts, caws from my pet crow, even the seagulls. Don't forget the lovely swooshing from washer and dishwasher, working for me!

December 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTricia Rose

Wow looks great

December 14, 2011 | Unregistered Commentertim

I love your blog, so many inspiring images...beautiful kitchens

December 19, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterfound and sewn

This is such an interesting concept. I'll have to spend some time noticing the sounds in our house a little more.

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of sounds in our house in the clicking of our dogs claws when she walks over the laminate floor in the kitchen. Even when I'm somewhere I can't see the kitchen I can know what she's up to - if she's going to the front room, if she needs to be let outside - by the rhythm of the clicking.

January 8, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterpeanut

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