Noisy Neighbours Bug Us More Now Than 10 Years Ago

Here’s something to consider when planning end-of-summer backyard gatherings: an increasing number of Canadians don’t like noisy parties.

While this may seem, well, not particularly newsworthy, a recent Statistic Canada survey on victimization reports that more people found noise to be a problem in their neighbourhoods in 2014 than in 2004. The survey didn’t address the issue of whether parties were noisier than they were 10 years before, or whether there were more noisy parties. Or even whether people are getting more sensitive to noise disruptions that impinge on their peace and quiet.

The Statistics Canada survey, released in spring 2016, measured how Canadians perceived overall disorder in their neighbourhoods. It compared perceptions in 2014 against the results of a similar survey in 2004. For survey purposes, disorder included mess, litter, graffiti and property damage as well as public drunkenness and drug issues.

One in four perceived some kind of disruption in their neighbourhoods, but fewer than one in 10 felt it was a big problem. Overall, 23 percent of respondents in 2014 described their neighbourhoods as orderly, compared with 25 percent in 2004. Other facts:

  • People in urban centres are also more likely to describe their neighbourhoods as disorderly than those who live in more suburban or rural locales.
  • In most provinces, perceptions of orderliness and disorderliness remained stable. Only two reported a significant decrease in perceptions of disorderly neighbourhoods: New Brunswick and British Columbia.

These Hacks Cut Noise in Open Concept Spaces

There’s no question that open concept living is still the way to go for designers and their decorista clients. And why not? It can make a space feel large and airy, provide the room-to-room flow that supports today’s relaxed lifestyles, plus it’s so in now that alternatives look dated.

But with the open concept lifestyle comes a problem: no walls means no sound barriers, which can raise noise issues for families with competing priorities. Fortunately, there are hacks to deal with all that racket:

Pad it, literally

If your open living area is a hardscape, without soft materials to absorb sound, fabric can help. Thick, high-quality floor coverings are a great first step. You don’t have to install wall-to-wall carpeting (although that would work wonders); instead, consider adding an area rug to anchor your living room furniture.

If well chosen for their sound-absorbing properties, fabric window coverings also make sense. Eschew sheers or other similar-weight fabrics, as they haven’t the chops to do the job.

Allow for options

Create ways to divide your space at will, including popular reclaimed wood sliding doors; pocket doors that disappear when not in use, and even movable sound-absorbing panels like those dividing office cubicles. There are also elegant screens on the market today that demarcate and reduce sound while keeping that open feeling.

Switch up your flooring

Hardwood, stone, and tile floors may look lovely, but they’re part of the problem, not the solution. Cork is a wonderful option, and it comes in all sorts of styles and colours these days. And like wood, cork is soft and comfortable to walk on. While concrete may also absorb sound (and look great), don’t install it in locations where you’ll be standing for any period of time, like the kitchen. Your legs and feet will notice.

With these and other hacks, decoristas can have it all.