One of my more savvy clients once asked both me and her husband to stand in the spacious Family Room on the first floor and wait. She walked back to the entrance, picked up her high heels and walked up the stairs to the second floor. My first thoughts were that she wanted some privacy to make an important phone call (and needed her shoes?) but then I heard it. CLICKETY CLOP CLICKETY CLOP… I turned to her husband with a quizzical look and he responded with a grim face while shaking his head.
“You see,” he explained, “we need a quiet house. In every house we look at, one of us stands on the first floor and the other puts on their shoes and walks around and we listen to how much sound carries from one floor to the next.”
At first I wasn’t sure what to make of their little test but the more I thought about it the more it began to resonate with me. It’s far easier and simpler to look at a home as an efficient layout with the requisite number of bedrooms, closets etc. It’s a totally different perspective to consider how sound will travel across that house and which rooms will serve well for certain activities and which rooms won’t.
I will never forget showing a home to a couple who was looking to upgrade. When we got to the master bedroom the wife turned to me and said: “Can you find us a home where the master bedroom closet has two doors. One door inside the bedroom where my husband can enter (when he wakes up at the crack of dawn) and a second door on the other side of the closet that exits to the hallway so that after he finishes dressing he doesn’t wake me up a second time upon leaving!”
When new construction really took off in this area it was “de rigueur” for every house to have a two story entryway. They are beautiful and really set a “majestic” tone upon entering a home. But after enough of these homes were built word got out… the sound goes everywhere. If adults are talking in the dining room be aware, the kids in the bedrooms will hear every word. Slowly, many of these homes started incorporating sound proof insulation and better positioning of second floor hallways to impede the sound from traveling so easily from one floor or room to the next. Other homes just did away with the two story entryway all together and opted to focus on isolating noise from the rest of the house.
I find that living in a home is an evolving process. At certain times a particular feature may be your favorite but as time moves on one’s perspective may change and we learn to appreciate other parts of our home. If we are lucky (and you have a good Realtor!) we get to live in a home that continues to serve our needs as we proceed along our journey.
Nechama Polak is the Broker of Record and Owner of V and N Group LLC. V & N Realty is located at 1401 Palisade Ave in Teaneck, NJ. Feel free to email Nechama at email@example.com or call 201.826.8809.