This site is primarily about the visual aspect of our homes, yet we can’t forget the audio aspect. What good is it to have a stunningly lovely home, but have our nerves be grated upon by sounds that make us want to go elsewhere?
Noise pollution is just as bad as all other kinds of tangible pollution. Do some sounds really annoy you? The other day a perturbing sound started me thinking about the relevance of why certain sounds affect certain people, and the only reason I could figure was that they touch part of our historical psychology-in other words, they remind us of past unpleasant associations. Probably psychologists have a whole realm of more technical causes, but I don’t like reminders of times when I felt bad, and I’m sure most people don’t, either. The same could be said for sounds that elevate our mood; again they are quite variable and can cover a wide range. But, some sounds bother us to such a degree that they may even be a reason for not living in a specific locale.
Some of the sounds I particularly find disquieting would definitely affect my home atmosphere, just as those I love could add to it. For example, I find the sound of a train whistle quite sad, and would never live near a track that’s still in use. The forlornness of a train whistle conjures a despair of hard times from my parents’ generation that is unexplainable, but still very real to me. I would not wish to hear neighbors play music from the 40’s, especially polkas…My grandparents would listen to such music on an old radio every Sunday, and, although my childhood was happy, such songs have always inexplicably annoyed me.
I also can’t stand Instant Message notification…you know, that aggravating “blmmmp”. Even worse are those sounds that some people install in place of that blmmmp. (One time I was near the computer and didn’t realize it was on. My daughter had just turned off the monitor but left the audio volume on “high”. As I bent over to retrieve something from the desk drawer, a loud kissing smack reverberated out of the speaker and almost gave me a heart attack.) That, to me, is noise pollution.
So, what can you do to eliminate the bad noise and add good noise into your home to put you in a better mood? And, is there any way to add to your décor while doing so? Perhaps there is, if you think long and hard and use some creativity. One very common way to block out street noise is with a machine that generates another noise, such as humidifiers, air conditioning, heating, and the like. But few want to have to resort to machinery all the time, especially if it’s not really required. “White noise” devices for bedrooms are small but effective, and bubbling fountains may be considered for use in family or living rooms. They don’t need to be the type seen in pictures of mansions; less ostentatious models are now available for the “average” homeowner. Most folks wouldn’t want to keep a television on all day, but turned to cable music stations, or using a radio set on a non-commercial station may also work in offering a pleasant layer of music to blanket the neighbors’ lawnmowers, dogs, or kids.
Don’t forget chiming clocks; grandfather clocks have been long held in esteem for their reassuring bongs every hour, but only you can decide if they would be disruptive to your sleep. Wind chimes outside a door that’s open during warm weather can add a pleasant feeling to your home, but you can also hang one on the inside, above a window, for the same effect. (These have the added benefit of being made in metal, wood, shells and other natural materials, and can be a lovely accessory to any room.)
Look around and see if anything bothers you, and do something about it. Turn off speakers if they bother you; close windows if the kids are playing ball underneath it-or open windows to hear the wind and the birds.
There are good reasons why certain monks and nuns maintain periods of silence, and why cats run away from noise and commotion. Sounds do have a way of getting to us, for good and bad reasons.