Common house acoustics
From: Lynn Nadeau / Maraiah (
Date: Thu, 21 May 2015 08:58:43 -0700 (PDT)
> Grace: If there is one major, universal shortcoming of every common house in 
> which I have visited, it is acoustic control shortfall. Rather than 
> continuously trying to deal with corrections after the fact, are there 
> appropriate design details for precluding the problem?
> Tom Lofft, Liberty Village, MD
Grace can contribute her professional expertise. In the meanwhile, here's my 
amateur observation:

When we built our Common House in 1999 -- designed it ourselves -- we had heard 
so many times, "Don't let anyone talk you into high ceilings". Our dining room 
is approximately 30 ft square. So we also wanted to break up the sense of a big 
blank center. What we did was to put a pattern into the oak floor in the center 
--- about a 12-ft square -- and in the ceiling above that, a "coffer" which 
serves not only as an aesthetic feature (it is done in a wooden "quilt" of 
colorful stained strips of wood), and a design reflecting the floor pattern, 
but was also supposed to help with acoustics. The ceiling is regular height (8 
ft?), and the coffer area is about two feet higher than that. With the coffer, 
and with regular acoustic tile on the rest of the ceiling, our dining room 
acoustics have been quite satisfactory, even with hardwood flooring and 
plastered walls and lots of glass window area. 

(The coffer also has some recessed lighting around the edge, and the ceiling 
fan hangs from the center.)

Maraiah Lynn Nadeau
RoseWind Cohousing, Port Townsend WA
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