Father’s Day is fast approaching – June 17, only nine days away. If you’re searching for the perfect Father’s Day gift this year, you’re probably looking beyond the obligatory card and tie.
If you polled dads across the country, their number one wish for Father’s Day might be peace and quiet. And they really mean it – a solid stretch of at least 10 hours of silence, or the closest thing to it they can find.
Now, this could be a challenge. How do you gift a commodity as valuable and, more often than not out of reach, as quiet?
A gift certificate for a massage could be a good bet. Check ahead with the spa to make sure their masseuse is not a chatty type, and fetch your dad one to two hours of undisturbed ahhhhhh. If he’s a golfer, time on the green might be a favorite escape, if he can squeeze in his tee-off mid week when most courses are quietest. But even the most creative choices for giving dad some quiet time are fleeting. Buying quiet is just not easy.
It may seem like a stretch, but how many adults do you know, men and women, who don’t dream of a quiet space at home they can call their own? Soundproofing in homes today is growing in popularity, although most homeowners aren’t sure where to begin or what the cost might be.
Although the scientific veracity of these findings may be debatable, on a recent episode of “Family Feud,” a television game show that asks contestants to guess the most popular answers to random questions, the results of the show’s survey question: “Name the noisiest room in a house,” were, in this order:
If the dad in your life were to choose his own peace and quiet oasis, he may or may not choose any of these rooms, but for practical purposes most homeowners look to install noise absorbing and noise blocking materials in a home theater or home office. These rooms tend to provide a comfort level that can be enjoyed for long stretches of time, whereas a bathroom might not offer any realistic relaxation space for more than 20 minutes. The kitchen may not offer the absolute isolation that is part and parcel with peace and quiet, which makes the living room an equally questionable contender.
Different rooms have different noise abatement needs, so if you decided that the dad in your household would appreciate a quiet space of his own (or one you could share), the first step would be to talk to an acoustical consultant who can evaluate noise issues in the home, and help choose the best room for soundproofing treatment.
Let me just mention that soundproofing is never absolute. Eliminating all sound completely is simply not achievable, but noise can be dramatically reduced in a room – and in today’s noisy world, this “little luxury” is growing in popularity as more and more people seek solitude from the clamor of everyday life.
Noise abatement in a home theater makes sense, as this room is meant for enjoying music, movies, and television with as little external acoustical interference as possible. Eliminating noise in home theaters can be tricky because there may be issues of vibration and low frequency sound that requires a different sound abatement approach than, say, a room in which the challenge is keeping external noise out.
A home office might make sense for soundproofing treatments, since most homes do not have home theaters, and home offices are becoming standard as more people choose to telecommute. Depending on factors such as the number and placement of windows, as well as noise sources affecting the room, a noise blocking or noise absorbing treatment may be called for, or possibly a combination of both. An acoustical expert can also determine if the ceiling or floor need noise abatement treatments as well.
For anyone who has struggled with noise-related sleep deprivation, the bedroom may be the best choice for soundproofing, especially since it can serve as a comfortable retreat when the need for peace and quiet arises.
As the number of studies proving the negative health effects of noise keeps growing, the number of people looking to install noise insulating material in their homes grows. Increasingly, architects and builders are including soundproofing material in new home projects as a selling point that definitely appeals to buyers.
When I was growing up, ours was a family of eight children in a cavernous six-bedroom house on Lake Michigan, built in the late 19th century. There were always a door slamming, voices echoing, televisions, radios, stereos blaring – it was a boisterous household. My dad found his solitude in our bunker of a basement, which actually did a good job of sealing out the upstairs chaos above.
But that basement was built more than 100 years ago as a fortified shelter to protect the home’s inhabitants from the tornadoes that occasionally moved in off the lake in summer. Its solid stone walls were thick enough to house a wine cellar. Dad was a quiet guy, who rarely seemed perturbed by the noise in the house; he would just slip down to the basement to putter when he needed peace and quiet.
It wasn’t until he passed away in 1994 that we realized how peaceful his cellar lair actually was, an oasis in that big old house where over the years he taught himself to build delicate ships in bottles, make custom fishing rods and golf clubs, and kill time with a half a dozen other hobbies that required quiet and focus.
Everyone deserves such an oasis of peace and quiet, although you’re just not going to get it in most houses built after the early 20th century. In modern houses, creating a “peace and quiet” room can be the best Father’s Day gift yet, especially since mom can enjoy it too. Realtors find that home soundproofing can increases the resale value as well.
If you can think of a better Father’s Day gift – or perhaps you already have – tell us about it in the comments below.