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Quieting the High-Tech Luxury Home

“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. “It really does add to the noise level throughout the home.” For clients’ kitchens, he recommends using perforated wood panels to create a decorative ceiling, or acoustical plaster that blends in to ceilings and absorbs sound, costing about $35 to $45 a square foot at the higher end. Adding in devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home, plus televisions, iPads and phones, makes the acoustics in those spaces even more challenging. Some living room fixes Ms. Schnitta recommends include using sound-absorbing fabric in curtains, behind wall-hangings, or under rugs. They had sliding doors installed to block off a portion of the living area behind the kitchen. “I don’t want it to be like a car or like my office.” Stephen Atkinson, the architect who worked on the Kearney home, says when he builds homes from scratch, he generally avoids ceilings higher than 16 feet and rooms that span an entire floor in order to reduce acoustical complaints. In living rooms or great rooms, he places custom wall tiles layered with sound-absorbing fabric near the ceiling. “When the sound isn’t reverberating or echoing, it gives the sense of a cozier environment.”