Let’s say you’re recovering from knee surgery and you meet your extended family for some R&R at a rented lakehouse in North Texas.  You might expect to sleep in every day, or get a nap here and there.  Take it easy for a few days while enjoying the company of your closest blood relatives.  Nice, huh?

Family chemistry aside, this goal hinges upon the comforts of said lakehouse, and pictures on the Internet don’t tell the whole story.  What looked like a luxurious home featuring wall-to-wall travertine, beautiful wood stairs, wood flooring throughout the upstairs, a gourmet kitchen and a gorgeous fireplace was actually a deafening tomb…a cacophonic spree.

The living room in our lakehouse rental.

The living room in our lakehouse rental features travertine floors, a leather rug and nothing but wood blinds on the windows.

The gourmet kitchen wooed us online.  Too bad the high-end dishwasher doesn't work and the stupid icemaker isn't even hooked up.

The gourmet kitchen wooed us online. Too bad the high-end dishwasher doesn't work and the stupid icemaker isn't even hooked up.

Yes, I’m the recovering surgical patient, and I should’ve known better.  I’m constantly advising against wood floors upstairs and against tile in a living room, because of the loudness factor these harder surfaces bring with them.  In a nutshell, if you remove soft surfaces from the equation, and don’t add in supplemental textiles, you’re in for a world of hurt.

I can tell that the people who built and own this house are allergy sufferers.  Aside from the sofa and loveseat in the living room, bedding in the bedrooms, and a bit of upholstery on the dining chairs, there is no fabric in this house whatsoever.  No curtains on a single window.  Even the rugs are woven jute and leather…nothing plush to speak of.

Even if it was just the three of us Callans, it would be miserable in this house.  Add umpteen other cousins and a Lord of the Flies mob mentality that has taken over the place, and you can see how ridiculous it was to dream of naps.

For those of you who are allergy sufferers, I feel for you.  Your health and comfort depend on as fiber-free a home as you can possibly create.  If this is you, I highly recommend adding extra soundproofing insulation within the walls.  And if you can take it, adding a tailored upholstered cornice above your windows can give you a minimal window treatment that won’t add a lot of dust to the equation and will make your windows look finished.

Upholstered cornice with welting, from The Shade Store.

Upholstered cornice with welting, from The Shade Store.

Here’s how the soundproofing thing breaks down:

– Carpet and cork flooring will absorb more than wood and tile.  Wood will absorb more sound than tile, because it’s softer.

– Curtains and thicker rugs add a lot to the soundproofing mix.  If you don’t believe me, go into your bathroom and remove all bath rugs and the towels from towel bars.  Say something and notice how the sound echoes.  Now put the rugs and towels back in and say something.  There’s a BIG difference and it’s all due to the textiles.

– Leather furniture does not absorb as much sound as other upholstery because it’s a little bit harder than fabric.

– Canvas-wrapped art will absorb more sound than glass-front frames.

– Wool and yarn-based rugs absorb more than sisal and jute rugs.

– Wood tables absorb more sound than glass or metal tables.

– Fabric roman shades are better for sound absorption than wood blinds.

– Real plants with dirt absorb more sound than faux plants stuck in styrofoam.

– Candles will absorb more sound than glass containers filled with potpourri.

– Wood cabinetry will absorb more sound than metal or laminate cabinets.

– Sheetrock walls absorb more sound than tiled or wood panel walls.

– Duvets will absorb more sound than a matelasse coverlet.

– Add a table runner for a little bit of sound absorption on the dining table.

– If you have kids, you want as much sound proofing as possible.  That typically means carpeted stairs and carpeted upper floors.

If you’ll take these things into consideration, you can go a long way toward creating a more cozy and comfortable environment at home.