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Kitchen's done but is so, so, so very noisy

Posted by marysdottir (My Page) on
Mon, Jun 16, 14 at 22:35

I'd love to know if anyone has had this experience and if so what you did to solve the problem.

We just finished a kitchen renovation that involved all new cabinets, countertop, sink and faucets. The layout has pretty much stayed the same, though we moved the fridge to a hallway. We had a "kitchen warming" family celebration the other day for about 35 people and it was unbelievably noisy. I was bothered by how loud the house has become when all those voices are talking at once and I had 4 or 5 others tell me it was very loud for them too. We are not a quiet family when we get together but the noise level has never been so harsh before. I can't help but think I might have caused this by some of the reno changes. I didn't notice it being louder when it has just been us or smaller gatherings but this big one (which we do three or four times every year) was almost unbearable.

I don't think we increased the amount of hard surfaces but we did change the type of hard surfaces with the biggest change being the removal of a laminate counter top and the installation of soapstone. Could the laminate on its particleboard base have absorbed sound better than the soapstone?

What do you think might reduce the impact of the changes? We have a very private yard so I don't have drapes or curtains on any of the windows. This area has one small window and four floor to ceiling windows forming sliding doors with full side lights but those windows have been there for decades. I thought maybe hanging drapery panels anyway might absorb sound. I also though about replacing my peninsula stools with upholstered ones. I'm not sure what else might help in a kitchen.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Kitchen's done but is so, so, so very noisy

To answer your question, yes, we did have that. We moved back into this house after ten months of repair to hard floors and ceilings scraped clean of popcorn, not that it was effectively acoustic anyhow. The echoing started right then right in the front hall. Just the two of us. A day later the front hall was loaded with some of our gazillion framed photos in all sizes, and there was no disconcerting echo-y sound at all there.

A rule of thumb is that nothing structural absorbs sound within a room. That’s walls, floor, ceilings, cabinets, steel appliance fronts, windows, and so on. That said, there are (another blasted rule of thumb) two main types of annoying sound. One is penetration from outside, like living next to the tracks or the main runway at the airport. Another is reinforcing reflections within a room originating with flat surfaces facing each other, like the floor and ceiling or the East and West walls. You have big sheets of glass!

The first type you reduce with mass. Mass like stone or triple pane windows or 2 or 3 layers of wallboard. That doesn’t sound like your type of problem, so here’s a big question: when you did the re-do, did you put all the tons of stuff you took off the walls back up? People like their new rooms to be clean and sharp! They like the cabinets to have big flat reflective fronts. So do I.

To mitigate the second type of annoying sound, without going all commercial on your budget with traps and resonators and such, you have two remedies, both of which go together well. One is absorption, done by adding padding like sofas (!), rugs, and soft art like needlepoint or Apache rugs. This sort of thing only works over a narrow range. The other is to mess with all those opposing flat parallel sound reflecting surfaces by adding tchotchkes like teapots on a shelf, pictures everywhere, kindergarten art on the fridge, holiday towels on the oven grab bar, hanging pendants and fans, stools with curved padded backs, hanging and countertop plants. Stuff like that. Even the drapes and curtains you don't want. Perhaps a valence.

Random stuff scatters the sound, not diminishing its volume but muddying its sharpness. That may be all it is. No big fix, just a lot of little things.


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RE: Kitchen's done but is so, so, so very noisy

BTW: there are ceiling treatments too. An embossed tin ceiling "can be" quieter than a drywall ceiling, and there are sound dispersing baffles to fit in the grid of a drop ceiling. Just saying...


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RE: Kitchen's done but is so, so, so very noisy

Try houseplants :-) functional, living decor.


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RE: Kitchen's done but is so, so, so very noisy

I had that problem once after we skim-coated the rough plaster walls in the dining room. Suddenly it was very noisy in there because there was no texture---even a relatively slight one---to break up the sound. It all bounced right off the smooth, hard walls.

Break up the sound waves with stuff. Framed textiles or wallhangings will help, too.


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RE: Kitchen's done but is so, so, so very noisy

We'll you have all given me something to think about! Thanks so much for your comments.

In answer to one of your questions, Cold, we didn't put back all or even most of the clutter we lived with for years. We had shelves full of china and kid's art and more photos than anyone has a right to. We tried to be "tasteful" and respectful to the new kitchen so only put up a small portion of that chaos. We had a long tabletop always covered in fabric because it was Ikea baby change tables functioning as a dessert table. That was replaced by a lovely built in cabinet with a soapstone top. Lovely but no sound absorbing value.

Who knew I was capable of having a house that was too streamlined? But I love your answers because I feel like I have just been given permission to make my house cosy again! Thank you all.


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RE: Kitchen's done but is so, so, so very noisy

You have me intrigued. Why marysdottir ? Do you have any connections to Iceland.
As for your problem I agree with what others have said. Plants, wall decor, rugs curtains. But understand you not wanting to curtains. A friend of mine had somekind of a cloth glued on the walls to fix noise. ( you do not see it )
And in the loft they made holes periodically. Her house is very open and with high ceilings


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RE: Kitchen's done but is so, so, so very noisy

I'm glad your kitchen is noisy, because I'm not sure we would have seen a picture otherwise! What a wonderful teaser photograph. I love what I see, especially the wallpaper. Will you share more?

Isn't it wonderful that shelves of china and children's art can keep the din at bay? They are two of my favorite things!


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RE: Kitchen's done but is so, so, so very noisy

Allow me to echo the sentiments above (yeah, bad pun) I'd love to sed more! Can you post a reveal or add your kitchen to the finished kitchens blog? It looks so pretty from what little we've seen.


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RE: Kitchen's done but is so, so, so very noisy

Ice1, onedogedie and EAM44,
I like the idea of cloth on the walls. How does one keep it clean, though, especially in or adjacent to a kitchen?

And I have no connection to Iceland other than a fascination with the land and the culture. Someday I hope to visit there. Is that what "Ice" represents in your name, Ice1? I love the idea of girls taking a name from their mothers and since Mary was my mom's name, "Marysdottir" allowed me to combine two loves in one name.

I've been kind of shy about the idea of sharing my kitchen. I've been a lurker for so long, basing so much of my planning for this kitchen reno and an earlier bathroom reno from all the amazing people here on GW, that it feels odd to share my amateur efforts with people who have created such beautiful spaces! But I guess that is how we all learn from the decisions of others. I am very pleased with how the kitchen turned out so on my next day off I will try and capture some decent pictures in good light and share them.

Funny you should mention the wallpaper. We have had it for more than twenty years and are only just now thinking about replacing it with something more subtle. I still love it and given that it is vinyl, it may be impossible to remove, so it just may be on those walls until the kids inherit and have to sell the house! I think it drives our cabinet designer crazy though. Every time she sees it she looks ill and mutters about all the colour we have in here. She is a bit of a minimalist but she coped with all of my demands on the cabinets, even the things that seemed too "old fashioned" so I have to give her credit for being open minded.

Thank you all for your kind words. You've given me the courage to post a reveal!


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RE: Kitchen's done but is so, so, so very noisy

I was going to say the same thing. I love the look of your kitchen! Can't wait to see more. And I enjoyed reading this thread, it was very educational.


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RE: Kitchen's done but is so, so, so very noisy

Jebb Im Svava Tyrfingsdóttir from Iceland.


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RE: Kitchen's done but is so, so, so very noisy

I completely understand about being shy to share. It seems to be an intimate gathering spot, but I do wonder how many lurkers there are? Then again I figure people must be moved to post at some point.

It has been an educational post for me too. As I make design decisions for my kitchen (19+ months in progress with only floor & walls finished - so not much to show) I realize how certain decisions will have unpleasant effects, and perhaps dusty, exposed shelves are preferable.


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RE: Kitchen's done but is so, so, so very noisy

Wonderful Kitchen, I'd also like to see more photos. I worked at a supper club once, and the band guy was setting up his Bose speakers. He told me that the problem was that one whole wall was brick and 1 1/2 walls were mirror. Those 2 components made the sound bounce around, because they're hard surfaces. It made for a tough time for him to set the speakers and the sound produced by them. We had a mostly older crowd, who would not like too much volume. He suggested a heavier cloth to be used backstage, and it really helped. It was a cheaper way to absorb sound, than changing the tables and chairs. Add some rugs, your teapots, and childrens art. It sounds like you'd like it a little more, because you loved to display those things before your reno. Put them back, see what a difference it makes.


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RE: Kitchen's done but is so, so, so very noisy

Wonderful Kitchen, I'd also like to see more photos. I worked at a supper club once, and the band guy was setting up his Bose speakers. He told me that the problem was that one whole wall was brick and 1 1/2 walls were mirror. Those 2 components made the sound bounce around, because they're hard surfaces. It made for a tough time for him to set the speakers and the sound produced by them. We had a mostly older crowd, who would not like too much volume. He suggested a heavier cloth to be used backstage, and it really helped. It was a cheaper way to absorb sound, then changing the tables and chairs. Add some rugs, your teapots, and childrens art. It sounds like you'd like it a little more, because you loved to display those things before your reno. Put them back, see what a difference it makes.


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RE: Kitchen's done but is so, so, so very noisy

Ice1, I love your name! It sings on the page so "in real life" I'm sure it's magical.

This has been very informative. I'm so glad others have understood this issue and solved it. I really appreciate the help and I will get some pictures done later this week and post the reveal ( it feels silly to say that!) by the weekend. Thanks for all the lovely comments, everyone.


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RE: Kitchen's done but is so, so, so very noisy

You have already gotten some great advice, but I loooove the look of your (I assume unoiled) soapstone! It is soft and beautiful like the Bedford Marble Corian I wanted to do originally.


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