Step into a recording studio, and you'll notice that the interior walls are covered in fabric, or baffles are placed throughout the room. The purpose for them is to stop the sound from reverberating. The same theory holds true in your home. Hard surfaces cause sound to bounce around -- and to echo. Your beautiful modern home, with its high ceilings, stone flooring, walls of windows, and modern furnishings may please your visual senses, but your sense of sound won't be pleased until the echo is tempered.

Flooring Choices

Cork is a hard, but porous flooring material that absorbs sound. The sound waves travel through the air before sinking into the holes that make up the cork, which are part of the cork's cellular structure. As the sound penetrates the cork, it's broken up. Echos are diminished by this sustainable flooring that was popularized in the early 20th century by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Area rugs or carpeting are another detriment to echoes. The fibers of the rug absorb sound, and when placed atop good-quality padding, the effect is even greater. Use the area rugs as runners in the hallways and to cover the floors in large open spaces. The sound of footsteps and voices diminish with scattered rugs as well as wall-to-wall carpeting.

Laminate floors are a sound reducer, and they work best when a sub-floor of cork or a sound-reducing film is laid underneath the planks. Without the sub-flooring, laminate floors sound like linoleum when walked on, creating more of an echo.

Upholstery Considerations

Modern leather furniture looks good, but it does nothing to reduce the echoes that bounce around your home. Sound reduction needs fabric. Complement your leather sofa with side chairs covered in wide-welt corduroy, a soft, loose-weave tweed, cushy velvet or even cashmere. All are effective sound-absorbing fabrics.

Draperies or Blinds

Floor-length draperies help trap sound, eliminating its echo.

  • A padded valance on top is an additional sound absorbent.
  • Maintain your wall of windows and the view by using the draperies at night and a light sheer panel during the day. The sheer will also help diminish the sound.
  • If you prefer Roman shades or honeycomb blinds, be sure they're made of fabric.
  • Louvers only add to the echo, unless they're covered with fabric.

Artwork

Covering the walls is a key to reducing echoes. However, art covered in glass creates another hard surface for sound to bounce off.

  • Consider canvas art, in which an air pocket forms between the art and the wall. This, too, prevents echoes.
  • Tapestries and woven art also work to reduce echoes.