Re: Common House Ceilings
From: Joani Blank (
Date: Wed, 22 Apr 1998 03:07:01 -0500
Ditto to the comments about ceiling heights in the common house.  IMHO
noise control is more important than any other single consideration in
relation to dining area ceiling height. High or cathedral ceilings usually
look fantastic, but unless the acoustic treatment of the ceiling is
absolutely fantastic (aesthetics aside),  you are trading openness for
reduced decibels, and I'll take less noise any day. Will someone from
Pioneer Valley please describe the ceiling height in your dining/sitting
area. My memory from a brief visit and pictures I've seen, is that your
fireplace, couches and comfy chairs are in the middle of the space where
there is a very high (cathedral?) ceiling. But the dining tables are
grouped around the high area in large alcoves with low  ceilings. So then
there's the problem that the sitting area isn't cozy.  

That leads me to a related questions. One is how much glass is in your CH
walls? The more glass the more light, of course, but also the more noise.
Sound-absorbing heavy drapes are good to cover the windows at night, but on
summer nights you certainly won't want to close them at dinner time.
We are going to have this glass problem at Old Oakland, like we do at Doyle
Street.  At Old Oakland (Swan's Market) our CH kitchen ceiling slants up
from 9 feet to 13 feet in the kitchen, and goes from 13 to 24 feet (!) in
the dining and sitting area. And of course the 24 foot wall is almost solid
windows.  And we'll have a  concrete floor  to deal with as well.   We have
taken to heart Katie's warning that dining area acoustics is a huge
challenge for every common house she's ever met--and she and Chuck have met
more than anyone else around, I dare say.   At the moment, I can't remember
our design committee has decided or recommended about acoustical treatment
of the ceiling, but I think our group is committed to doing what we can to
deal with it as effectively as we can.

If you do decide on high ceilings, remember that you can add appreciably to
the coziness, by having low lighting in both the dining and seating areas.
I don't mean low-wattage, I mean light fixtures that hang low over your
dining tables (perhaps raise-able by swagging or some other mechanism if
you want to clear the room for a party or other event). And in the sitting
area, consider attractive floor lamps or table lamps on end tables. instead
of wall sconces, although you might want to have those as well for those
times when you want to brighten the whole room for a meeting or some such.

Joani Blank

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