For those whose living-rooms face a noisy thorough-fare, double windows will be found useful in deadening the sound of traffic. A light sleeper will find such windows a great boon
In arranging contrivances and restrictions for obtaining a quiet house, we must not forget that the making of noise in one form or another is the perfectly natural instinct of every healthy child.
Never attempt to suppress noise altogether in your nursery or schoolroom or you will rear a very dull and depressed family. Here, then, is another problem for the woman who must consider a husband's wishes for a quiet home and her children's laudable desire to romp and make a noise. The two points which will help to solve the problem are the choice of the room in which noisy games may be played, and restrictions of the time when such games may take place.
The question of the room is one of utmost importance. We have known a busy vicar endure daily torture uncomplainingly because he knew it was good for his children to laugh and romp in the nursery overhead, but we blame the want of thought which arranged that the study should be below.
As it is easier to deaden sound on either side than to minimise the annoyance of noise overhead, make it a rule never to have the nursery immediately above the study. If the father goes to a peaceful office to do his business, the drawbacks of an overhead nursery are not so great, for, by the time he returns home the children will be in bed, or, at least, their noisy time will not coincide with his working hours.
For the benefit of the wife, also, who is always a home-worker, and who must transact all her business in the turmoil of her home duties, the workroom should be as far as possible removed from the nursery. The children's piano or violin practising times are those which most need careful restriction. What is more trying than to hear the wail of a beginner on the violin just as one takes the first spoonful of soup at dinner after a strenuous day's work?
A noiseless passage can be ensured by the use of a door stop, indiarubber tiling as floor covering, and the attachment of a draught slip at the bottom of the door itself
Schooldays are strenuous, and practising is not to be trifled with, but some careful readjustment of the schedule may regulate the practising time to an earlier or later hour, so that mother and father may have their evening meal in peace. Practising before breakfast, also, unless it can take place in a remote part of the house, should not begin before people are called. A thick piece of felt or a fur mat placed beneath the piano on which the children practise has an excellent effect in deadening the sound.
The time when noise is most jarring to the nerves is in the early hours of the morning. Every well-trained servant knows that she should knock firmly but not with too great energy; should enter the room quietly and perform her duties, such as placing tea by the bedside and drawing back the curtains, without undue haste or knocking about of furniture or china. If a maid does not perform these duties with care, it is the duty of every mistress to instruct her in the way they should be done. Many women give their maid special felt or thin-soled slippers to be worn before breakfast. These greatly minimise the sound of necessary work in the hall and elsewhere. Felt is good to cover broomheads.
With regard to night noises, these, unfortunately, are generally beyond our control, being outside the house. The only remedy for disturbed sleep from such cause is to "run away" from the sound; to have the bedroom on the quietest side of the house. If a flagged pathway runs past the front door, sleep at the back of the house; if a road on which there is late traffic goes on one side, have the bedroom on the other side. It is better to have a small and ugly room where you can sleep peacefully, than a fine apartment, where you are disturbed by outside noise. It is often possible to overcome the difficulty by using the ordinary bedroom for every purpose except that of sleep, and to retire to a quiet slip of a room to spend the hours of the night.
Each one must arrange for herself, but when buying or hiring a house, never lose sight of the noise question by night as well as by day, and, if you have a member of your family who suffers from nerves or insomnia, do not take a house where a paved road is likely to have much night traffic; nor where a chiming clock in town hall or church tower rings out each quarter - nor where a railway line with its siding is near.
The woman who desires as noiseless a house as is compatible with the carrying on of the work of the household, should be careful of kitchen noises. Chopping, grating, and saucepan - scraping should only be allowed with firmly closed doors, nor should floor-scrubbing go on while guests are in the drawing-room, if the kitchen is near that room.
Such noises are necessary evils, but if the servants are of the right kind, they will exercise their commonsense in the matter when they know the wishes of their mistress.
There is one noise which is wholly preventible, and yet it occasions much annoyance in many houses. We allude to the banging of the oven door. Not only is the sound annoying, but the banging of the door is very bad for the contents of the oven.
Serving-doors are apt to let into the dining-room all the noises of the kitchen. Where possible, there should be a narrow passage between the kitchen serving-door and that in the dining-room. The cook or kitchen-maid then puts the hot dish through the kitchen serving-door on to a table in the passage, closing the door at once. The parlour-maid, hearing the door close, opens the dining-room serving-door and takes the dish from the passage table. Thus the two doors are never open at the same time.
A great aid to the noiselessness of a house is the judicious use of carpeting felt and brown paper beneath the ordinary carpet. This deadens the sound of footsteps upon the floor.
If waxed wood, parquet, or pitch-pine is used in the passages, a strip of thick pile-carpet should be placed down the portion most used, and felt placed beneath.
Linoleum is good as a sound-deadener, and for this reason, and also for its cleanliness, may be used with advantage in bedrooms, but a thick make should be chosen, and stout brown paper placed beneath.
There is nothing so sound-deadening in a house as deep pile-carpet, and this, combined with the old-fashioned baize partition doors, will make movements in any ordinarily well-built house unheard.
The old-fashioned baize doors have not yet been surpassed for the work they are intended to do. One at the end of the nursery and schoolroom passage will shut off much of the noise which necessarily takes place in that part of the house. A baize door placed outside the door of a study will be a great comfort, while outside a bedroom all early morning noises will be deadened. Nor is such a door less useful when placed between a bedroom and a dressing-room, when it is desired to use both as bedrooms.
Ordinary care in filling scuttles and carrying coals will do much to minimise the nuisance of winter coal-carrying, but it is nearly always necessary to impress your wishes in this respect on a new maid.
Unless the room is empty, coals should never be thrown on from the scuttle, nor ladled out with a scoop with the horrible preliminary scraping of metal against metal.
A baize door to the schoolroom or nursery will deaden much of the noise insepar-able from these rooms. It can be used also between a bedroom and a dressing-room
In the sick-room an old thick glove should be kept near the grate, and the coal put on by hand.
Another expedient, which saves noise and is quicker than stoking with tongs, is to have the coal brought into the room in paper packages of large and small pieces, massed together and wrapped up in sufficient quantity to replenish an ordinary fire. Such parcels are then just placed on the fire; the paper wrapping burns away, and the fuel falls noiselessly into its place.
A bath or foot-mat of two pieces of canvas stitched together at two-inch intervals, and filled with corks in each division thus made