How to Reduce Echo in a Room (Cheaply)

Wall art to reduce echo in a room

Last updated: July 30, 2021 at 9:55 am

We all know how cool an echo can sound. Who hasn’t at one point or another roared in a big, empty room or a deep dark cave. It’s not quite as cool, however, when a room you spent a lot of time in is echoey. Very quickly, the echo becomes downright annoying.

In this article:

We’ll discuss different ways to reduce echo in a room or even stop it altogether and for a cheaply as possible.

What Causes Room Echo?

Sound moves in waves and the strength of the wave determines how far it travels before you can no longer hear it. That’s what would happen if you were outside.

Inside, however, the sound wave will continue until it hits the walls and ceiling. Then, if there’s nothing in the way to block or absorb it, the wave will still have enough strength that it will bounce back into the room and cause the echo.

This only happens with hard surfaces, though, so the best way to combat it is to increase the number of soft surfaces in the room. Obviously, carpeting the walls and ceiling isn’t an option without you having a really bizarre looking room, so let’s talk about other ways to add them and nullify that pesky echo.

9 Ways to Reduce Echo in a Room

1. Swap Your Blinds

If there are already metal blinds in the room, consider swapping them out for fabric ones. It could be expensive, but metal will just reflect the sound waves back into the room.

Consider vertical or roman blinds as a good way of preventing this. Roman blinds, in particular, could be a great design feature if you match them to the room’s decor.

If outside noise is also a problem, you could even consider soundproof blinds. They are specially designed to stop sound from moving through them, so they will cut down noise from the outside too.

2. Put Up Curtains

Thick fabrics are great at absorbing sound, so make sure you hang them over every window. That’s not much of the room covered, though, so you can take it a step further.

Soundproof curtains and throws come in a range of patterns, materials and thicknesses. If it’s a big, echoey room, why not make a feature and hang some on the walls? They’ll absorb sound and look great.

Moving and soundproof blankets are other terrific options too, but they may be a little more expensive.

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3. Embrace Soft Furnishings

Soft furnishings are excellent at absorbing sound in the same way curtains do, so fill up your space with comfy couches, armchairs and maybe even a chaise lounge if you’re feeling especially fancy. Go for fabric over leather and make them as soft and comfy as possible.

Please do not overdo it, though. Yes, more furnishings will stop more of the echo, but you don’t want your room feeling so cluttered you don’t want to spend time there. A good-sized couch and a couple of chairs should make a big difference.

4. Add Some Cushions

Take your sofa and chairs to the next level by adding some cushions. You can use them to add a colour accent and really bring your decor together. Their importance here, though, is to provide even more soft mass to absorb that pesky echo.

You could even hang blankets or throws over the back or arms. They will look great, give the room a cosy vibe, and provide more barriers for the sound to travel through.

Moving through soft furnishings takes away some of the sound wave’s strength, so it will be less likely to echo when it hits.

5. Carpets and Rugs

Yes, I agree solid wood floors, beautifully polished, are gorgeous. Sadly they are not your friend if you’re trying to stop an echo. The floor is the one surface you can cover with soft, sound-absorbing fabric, so this is a clear win.

Even if you don’t love carpets, there are so many designs at colours you’re bound to find one you can at least live with even if you don’t love it. Go for the deepest pile you can find to get the biggest effect. It will also help keep your feet warm and feel lovely to walk on, so you will come to love it in time.

Top tip, if you have kids or pets, stay away from light colours unless you want to spend all your time running around with carpet cleaner and a cloth.

If you really don’t want carpet or are looking to add even more soundproofing, you can lay down some lovely thick rugs. Again, they are available in a massive number of styles, colours, sizes and shapes, so you can get one to suit every room and budget.

6. Welcome in Mother Nature

Plants are another great choice for their sound absorption and blocking qualities. Because there are literally thousands of types and sizes, you can find the perfect combination for your room, whether it’s one large feature plant or loads of little ones dotted around. It’s not just about the echo either; there are so many other benefits to adding some greenery to your room.

First of all, they look really pretty and large ones in decorative pots can be a great feature in the room. Secondly, studies have shown that even having plants in the room can reduce stress and improve focus. The effect is increased by actually tending to the plants, so it’s great if your life is stressful.

Finally, they help absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen into the room, giving you better quality air.

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7. Bring on the Books

Even if you’re not an avid reader, having a bookshelf bursting with books will have a big impact on the echoes you can hear. Good thick books are ideal items to absorb sound and prevent it from hitting the walls. If you consider the bookshelf too, it’s a pretty substantial barrier.

If you don’t have a lot of books, this step still shouldn’t break the bank. Bookcases aren’t hugely expensive, and people often get rid of them cheaply on auction sites and social media. Sometimes people just want to be rid of them and give them away for free!

Charity shops are an ideal location for cheap books. Of course, ideally, you should try and get some you’ll read, but if you’re definitely not a reader, look for pretty coloured jackets that compliment the colours in your room.

8. Split up the Room

If the room is really massive, you may want to consider splitting up. It would probably be overkill to put up a wall, but you could think about getting room dividers.

They are usually made of a wood or metal frame with fabric inside that can either be folded out to divide the room or folded back if you need more space. When they’re open, the fabric panel will block and absorb the noise long before it reaches the far wall.

If you do nothing else but put in the divider, soft furniture and carpet the room, it may still make enough of a difference to the echo to make it liveable. If not, keep adding some of the other suggestions until you’re happy.

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9. Lower the Roof

Rooms with high ceilings can be so majestic, but they can also be a nightmare to heat and very echoey. If you’ve tried all the tips and tricks listed below, and there’s still an echo, you might need to take additional steps.

One of these steps is to lower the ceiling. If you’re going to do it structurally, then you will need to get a professional in to do this for you. One option that may work, though, is to hang fabric from the ceiling.

You might need to get a tall ladder and someone to hold it for you, but it is something you can do yourself. Think about getting a light coloured fabric in the centre and then pin it around the edge, letting it drape to create a tent-like effect. If you do it right, it may stop the echo and look like a great design feature.

Conclusion

An echoey room can be irritating, but generally, basic furnishings and carpet will reduce it to a manageable level. If you’re extra-sensitive to the sound, though, then the rest of these steps should solve the problem.

Keep adding until you’re happy but remember you have to live in the room. Try not to make it too cluttered and make each item look like it’s there to look good rather than to reduce the sound. You’ll end up with a room that’s quiet and stylish that you love to spend time in.

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About the Author: AJ

AJ writes about living a quieter life, soundproofing tips and recommending the best quiet products here on Quiet Living.

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