Decorating: use your ears
The sounds in your home. What are they? Do they add or subtract from the overall atmosphere you want?
Photo by Max Williams
Sounds in our homes as decor? I think so. After all, decorate simply means “to furnish or adorn with something becoming.” And while yes, I’ve stretched the connotation a bit, it still works. After all, in this series of Decorating with the 5 Senses, my goal is to simply spark ideas to further make your home a haven. Please remember this – I’m not talking about making your home magazine-worthy. I’m about making your home a haven, a place where you, and others, want to be for solace and refreshment. A place to break from the chaos of life – in a simple, stress-free home.
Stop for a few seconds and take in the sound surrounding you. Is it pleasing to your ear? Or is it stressful? Is there cacophony? Or is there a method to its madness?
As moms with young kidlets, we can’t always control this, of course. Babies scream, preschoolers whine, and battery-operated toys wail the most horrific sounds (and okay, we can control that last one. It’s called taking the batteries out.). But when we can control sound, are we proactive in making it part of the mood we want in our homes?
Music is the most obvious sound-maker, in this instance. And we all know how oddly powerful music has a way of calming or energizing us. Depending on the circumstance, music can add just the right touch of peace, or joy, or whatever mood we want.
I love having music in my home. I like to adorn my place with music that makes me want to be there. Am I writing, paying bills, or reading stories with my kids? Then I purposely play low-key, unobtrusive music, so that while my soul is treated to beauty, I’m not needlessly distracted. Am I cleaning or having an impromptu dance party with my preschooler? My natural choice is energetic, happy music.
And I think of others and their tastes – what would my family or my guests like to hear? Should the mood be peppy and fun, soothing and relaxing, or something else altogether? If we’re having guests over for dinner, I make the background music part of my set-up before they arrive – I take a stab at what their music preferences would be and what ambiance the meal might have.
When it’s just a typical day at home, I play different music depending on the time of day and what’s on the docket. I don’t have any hard and fast rules, but I enjoy classical or folksy stuff in the mornings and evenings, low-key-yet-happy music when I’m doing the mommy thing, and more subdued music for dinner.
Where to get music for FREE
There are scads of tools on the internet. I like making my own free compilations on Playlist and creating a stream of music for our home’s different moods. To get ideas, I sometimes head to iTunes’ Essentials section – I’ve lately had fun exploring their “My Groove” compilations.
When I can’t think of specific songs I want to hear, Last.fm is a good tool – I type in an artist I enjoy, and it will find a station playing similar artists for me. I’m introduced to new music, and chances are, I’ll like it because they’re similar to the artist I searched.
We’re really not in short supply of free music tools on the internet. Pandora, Rhapsody, Napster, Jukebox Alive, Radio Tower, and Deezer all provide free music streams in some format. Unfortunately, if you live outside the US, like me, most of these are not available for us. Grrr.
Where to BUY music
If you want to own the mp3s, you probably head to iTunes. Amazon is another good choice, and I actually prefer their interface better than iTunes’ (it loads faster for me). On the right sidebar, I’ve got two Amazon playlists – one is just music I’m currently enjoying; the other is a mix of good kids’ music that isn’t too kiddie, if you know what I mean.
ENJOY THE SILENCE
Playing music implies that there aren’t other sounds to compete. One of the biggest ways you can immediately transform your home’s mood is to turn off the TV. Especially when no one’s watching. We don’t watch TV, we only watch movies, and while we let our preschool daughter watch a little something nearly every day, we’re really proactive about limiting the time. We turn it off (and close the media cabinet door) when she’s done. Neither my husband or I watch TV until the kids are in bed for the night. Not only does this positively alter our home’s mood, it also really increases my productivity. I’m amazed.
And of course, silence is also a great tool. If peace is the mood you’re after, you can’t go wrong here.
Photo by Melody
How do you speak to each other in your home? Do you yell? Are you sarcastic? Do you listen to each other? Do you laugh? Do you sing silly songs with your kids? Do you let your kids be loud when they have friends over? Do you encourage “quiet time” with your children for part of the day? All these factors make up the sounds in your home. Your guidelines on these things will be different depending on your personality, the personality of other family members, and simply your priorities and preferences, but it’s good to take time to think about them.
If you don’t let your kids be loud, but only because that’s how it was when you grew up, not because it bothers you, then maybe you can change the rules. It might relax them, it might cheer you up, and it just might help your whole family enjoy being at home more. Who knows – it’s just an idea.
(I also love podcasts, and from time to time I listen to quality radio shows or sermons. But I don’t really think of them as decorating or adding to my home’s ambiance – they’re more purely for information. Sometime in the future I’ll write a post about good podcasts for home managers.)
Make a mental note of the sounds you hear in your home today. Think about what mood and atmosphere you’d like. What can you do to add audible decor? What sounds make your home a haven?
Just for fun, I’ve below is the current playlist I’m currently enjoying during my kids’ afternoon quiet time. The first half is my blog-writing, budget-making, email-responding music. The second half is my cleaning, organizing, and cooking music. I hope I’m not embarrassing or dating myself by revealing my current favorites – we’ll see.
Do you use the internet to play music? What are your favorite tools? Do you have any guidelines for music in your home? What are your music tastes – and do they differ from your family members? What about the noise level in general – is your home quiet or loud? I’m genuinely interested in your thoughts. I’ll see you in the comments section.
Check out the other articles about Decorating With the 5 Senses:
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