By Alex Brooks
Blame our desire for open plan living or penchant for whiz bang appliances, polished floorboards and other hard surfaces - but some interiors can be noisier than exteriors.
Poor acoustics is a problem in many modern homes, messing up our sleep, infringing on our couch-sitting time and creating more irritants than we really need. What to do?
SEAL THE DEAL: Wherever air and draughts get in, so too does noise. Sealing windows, door gaps and ventilation holes can stop exterior noise coming in to invade your interior space. Use adhesive rubber strips, soundproof systems and insulation to improve the quality of noise in a home - as well as offer the bonus of creating better heating and cooling performance.
REDUCE NOISY MAKERS: When building, insulate the interior walls to minimise the transfer of noise between rooms and always, always, always, pack insulation around the pipes - especially water waste pipes which transmit the rush of a toilet flush to all who surround them.
Try to purchase appliances that are acoustically friendly - dishwashers with noise-reduction built-in, quiet electic kettles and surround sound systems that don't deafen you. Then make sure you don't create your own interior noise reverberation system by avoiding too many hard surfaces parallel to each other. The last thing you want - if peace is your aim - is hardwood floors, no blinds and solid walls and ceilings with little or no noise-absorbing abilities. Carpets, curtains and plushly upholstered furniture are your friend to reduce noise - omit them at your ears' peril.
It's also a great idea to create a dedicated home theatre or music room with insulated walls and solid core doors to reduce the domestically-created noise that travels through the home. In fact, solid core doors are one of the best insulaters and soundproofing tactics you can create. They cost more, but retain the heat and reduce noise well.
ENTER ACOUSTIC REMEDIATION: Some open plan interiors are still acoustically challenged, no matter how many rugs or soft furnishings you install. In large formal dining rooms or family rooms, it's important to keep noise levels to a decent level so the function of the room is not lost.
There is a new soundwave gyprock product that can be easily retro-fitted and improve noise levels. There are also acoustic panels that can be placed on the walls or ceilings of problem rooms to help alleviate noise problems.