Diners who prefer not having to yell across the table to be heard during a meal may find fewer options as design trends toward high ceilings, open kitchens and hard surfaces leave fewer options for keeping the noise down, designers say. Some are finding new ways to absorb the sound. "We've done everything from spray cellulose-type materials on an exposed ceiling to putting liners on ceiling ducts. We'll put cotton batting, recycled denim, recycled T-shirts anywhere we can, behind a panel, to hide it but absorb that sound," said Cori Kuechenmeister, director of Shea Design.

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