“From far off, through circuitous corridors, came the scent of citrus-blossom and jasmine, with sometimes a bird’s song before dawn, sometimes a flute’s wail at sunset, and always the call of the muezzin in the night …”
– Edith Wharton, In Morocco

 We think so much about the appearance of our homes, a little about smell –scented candles and essences all round– but very often sound is forgotten. Yet it is perhaps the most essential element, as the level and the type of sound marks the comfortable and secure home out from one that which has its occupants on edge and …r e-word….

And the sound of the textiles and how they affects the acoustics of a room is extremely important, yet is so often overlooked.

Before we choose any surface we would do well to consider its’ sound, when it is touched and in general, whether it reflects or absorbs ambient sounds.

Some of these make profound difference : leatherglass, perspex, lacquered paint, polished metal, aged metal, filigree, ceramic tile,  stone tile for example.

* A silk taffeta with a crunchy texture, or a crisp organdie will rustle and crunch each time you touch them, they will also fall in a way that people will want to touch as they walk by.

* Hard surfaces reflect sound, all fabric absorbs sound, but to varying degree.

* The quietest, most restful rooms are upholstered with fabric walling: the top fabric is usually thick, or at least of medium weight, and even more sound deadening with a heavy cotton underlining beneath.

* Wood absorbs sound, and wood panelled walls create a restful space as they hold the sound .

* Highly painted or varnished wood doesn’t have the same effect, as sound tends to bounce off and  be amplified.

* Interlined curtains absorb sound, so much so that in some cases all outside noises can be eliminated without double-glazing.

* Thick bedroom curtains that absorb the sound aid restful sleep and lie-ins.

* Quiet rooms are sanctuaries, if you want some noise you can always open a door or window.

* Felt flooring, thick wool and felted underlays stop sound dead.

* If a room is to be quiet, the fittings must be wood–soft gilded or bleached, or lime painted filet and curtain poles, lamp bases and chair frames–instead of highly polished woods or metal .

I was just thinking that – walking through crisp snow wearing a woollen coat, hat and scarf , between each crunch of boots confirming every footstep, there’d be a break – a tiny silence – walking with a coat that rustles with each foot forwards would create tension as one sound carries into the next without remorse.

We have an inordinate amount of birdsong all around, and very often traffic too, that when it stops at night the difference is huge, and we live in a relatively quiet place.

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