luxury-homes-noise-wsj
Colin Price for The Wall Street Journal

Forget drowning out the neighbors. Homeowners today are battling a different kind of noise: the cacophony of pings and dings coming from all the gadgets inside their homes.

Internet-enabled, voice-activated “smart” devices have infiltrated homes, making it possible for people to adjust their bedroom temperature, turn on their oven or order a pizza merely by speaking the command. But talking and beeping devices, combined with other noise-emitting items like TVs, phones and iPads, have created a high-tech racket.

It’s the opposite of the peaceful retreat many homeowners strive to create. “Homes have suddenly become more ‘live,’ ” says Steve Haas, an acoustical consultant who works in luxury residences. “It emphasizes the need for better control.”

Homeowners can try a number of ways to reduce noise. Among the less expensive, simpler options: buying sound-absorbing panels for walls or ceilings, or sound-absorbing curtains or rug pads, and installing them yourself. These panels can be found online for as little as $50. Many window-treatment manufacturers sell noise-reducing shades or curtains for $50 to $300.

At the higher end, homeowners can hire an “acoustical consultant,” who will come to your house, evaluate your needs, recommend solutions and help with installation. Such work can cost up to $20,000 per room and include tactics such as special sound-absorbing ceiling plaster, vinyl noise barriers built into walls or ceilings, or noise-reducing ceiling tiles. Other options include adding extra insulation around mechanicals or purchasing furniture with plusher upholstery.

One of the biggest problem areas: the kitchen. Not only do kitchens have a lot of noisy gadgets, including newfangled sound-emitting ones like wi-fi-enabled refrigerators and ovens, the sleek surfaces on appliances, countertops and tile floors reflect rather than absorb sound. People also often place their virtual assistants, like Amazon’s Alexa…