Where To Position Your Piano: Everything You Need To Know!
Deciding where to place your piano is just as crucial as the kind of piano you buy. If your piano isn’t suited to the room it is found in, you won’t get the most enjoyable musical experience out of your instrument as possible…
…We’re firm believers that every piano should leave you just as excited every time you play as the very first time you hear it. There is a piano out there for almost any room and it’s our job to help guide you towards the right place to position your piano within your home!
When it comes to finding the optimal place to position your instrument, or if you are still deciding on the instrument you’d like to buy, there are 3 key criteria to consider on your piano: Aesthetics (how the piano will look), Ergonomics (how functional the positioning of the piano will be) and of course Acoustics (how the piano will sound).
As we explore these areas, you’ll soon be able to realise that certain choices of piano might not work as you intended, or perhaps that you have even more room for experimentation with the kinds of instruments for your home or studio!
The easiest of these criteria to discover first is the Ergonomics of the piano and how it will work in the room you intend to put it in. When it comes to rooms, there are a few essential criteria that acoustic instruments require in order to live a healthy musical life.
- The room must have a consistent temperature. In its simplest form, pianos don’t like being in rooms that transition between hot and cold throughout the day. This means that for the most part, areas such as conservatories or rooms with regularly used radiators, underfloor heating or central heating systems next to them will be problematic and need to be avoided at all costs. The reason for this is because as the temperature of the room changes, the wood of the instrument too will expand and contract, causing the instrument to become de-tuned rather quickly, which can also lead to cracks in the soundboard, issues across the piano’s action and keys and dramatically shorten the lifespan of your acoustic piano.
- Another point to consider here is direct sunlight, by placing your piano directly in front of a glass door or large window, your instrument is more likely to fade. If your piano is under direct sunlight the wood will start to fade and due to the changing temperatures likely caused, will also become out of tune. A high gloss polyester or polished finish can become distressed and muted if left under direct sunlight for too long. If possible, it’s best practice to keep your piano away from windows that let large amounts of sunlight through, or place a cover over your piano to protect it.
- It’s a similar story with moisture. If your instrument is kept in a room that gets damp or filled with moisture, the piano can become water damaged overtime. For those who perhaps have showers, bathrooms or kitchens nearby the room where you’re intending to put your piano, this is something to be aware of as you may also need to invest in a dehumidifier for the room. Excessive or fluctuating humidity can cause tuning pins, bridge pins and strings to rust and leave the response of the piano feeling sluggish with sticking keys, slow hammers and dampers and expanding felts. Piano technicians are also able to fit a humidity control system inside your piano if needed that can help regulate the moisture content inside the piano.
A constant temperature of around 20 centigrade and a humidity level of between 45 and 60 percent are ideal conditions for acoustic pianos.
If you are planning on putting a piano within your conservatory, near a radiator or near a room that does gather minor levels of moisture throughout the day, a high quality digital instrument would be a far better choice for you. For those who require the touch and feel of an acoustic, but still want that convenience, the Casio Grand Hybrid range is a fantastic line to consider as these instruments will be more resilient to changing temperatures and cope better with low levels of moisture.
The next question here to ask is how the piano is going to interact with the rest of the room? If the instrument makes general living hard, it’s not a practical choice. For example you wouldn’t put a grand piano in a corridor or smaller sized living space that you have to tiptoe past in order to get around it. In situations like this, an upright piano is a far more compact choice that would work better for your room.
If you are unsure on which instrument will work based on the size of your room, there are a few ways around this. Firstly, during each of our piano consultations, we ask for the rough dimensions of the room that the piano is going in and recommend instruments appropriate to that size. We are also able to provide physical footprints of certain pianos from the manufacturers that can be placed on floors so you will be able to physically see how the instrument will sit in your home. Finally, there are also plenty of free online softwares, such as Roomstyler that allow you to map out your room to create a customised floor plan based on your home and where the piano could fit.
The acoustics of a room that a piano is found in can massively vary in both the tone the instrument creates and how it reaches the ear.
There are a million different factors that can impact this and a lot of this process of determining the acoustics of a room can be done through trial and error over time. Optimising the acoustics of a room can take years to perfect and for those looking for perfect acoustics, a professional ear may be needed.
For most homes however the main things to consider here are:
- The Size Of The Room: It is possible to have an instrument that produces too much sound for a room, while one that’s too small may not be heard equally well in all parts of the space. As a very general rule of thumb, assuming a ceiling height of around eight feet, the combined lengths of the four walls should be around least ten times the length of a grand piano or the height of an upright piano in order to achieve optimal sound. If you’re longing for a large grand’s all encapsulating bass notes, just be aware that, even though such a piano is perfectly capable of producing that sound, your room may not be able to support it. This is something that can be discussed during a piano consultation.
- Flooring And Wall Materials: Different materials resonate at different frequencies and interact with sound in differing ways. This too is true in the case of finding the optimal sound for your instrument. For example, if you have a piano with a particularly bright sound already, then highly reflective surfaces such as marble floors or mirrors can make the instrument sound even brighter and potentially give it an almost ‘tinny’ sound. Likewise, a softer sounding piano in a room with thick carpets and curtains all over might sound a bit dull as the sound is absorbed into the material instead of resonating outwards. Most of these issues can be fixed rather simply by either adding padding or rugs to hard flooring if the sound is too bright, or by removing soft or absorbent materials if it is too soft, but is ultimately down to personal preference.
- Positioning Of The Piano: This is more determined by the ergonomics of the piano that we’ve already covered, however even the angle at which the piano is positioned can make an enormous difference to the sound it creates. Most rooms have three pairs of parallel surfaces: two sets of opposing walls, the ceiling and the floor. Acoustically, this actually produces what is known as ‘standing’ sound waves, where certain frequencies that sound much louder than others at some points in the room, this can create variation in the sound as it meets the ear. By simply either angling the piano slightly non-parallel to the wall or by moving the piano away from room corners can sometimes mitigate this problem and give a more rich holistic tone to your instrument. Remember that the piano’s sound when you sit at the keyboard will be different from its sound elsewhere in the room.
To learn more about how to judge the acoustics of a room, this is a fantastic in depth article to review that features a lot of technical points to consider if you are seeking for acoustic perfection.
We have left this one until last as ultimately it is the most personal decision of them all and there’s no one right or wrong answer here when it comes to how the instrument will look in your room.
Things that can be considered though are: Interior design tips and tricks, the finish of your piano and of course style, design or type of piano you would like.
In terms of design, much like the ergonomics of your piano, it needs to work within the room. Whilst a grand piano certainly injects a real sense of grandeur into any room, if it’s not front and centre or framed correctly by other furniture in the room, it can look cluttered or lose its impact on those that see it.
Some general tips for helping decide on how to position your piano here and to maximise the impact it has are:
Keep other furniture such as sofas or cabinets at least a metre away from the piano. This gives the piano it’s own sense of importance and can frame it incredibly nicely. This blog post brilliantly exemplifies how different decorations around pianos can impact the room.
For maximum impact and safety precautions to keeping your instrument safe from scratching or damage we would also recommend setting a few house rules with the family:
- Don’t keep anything on top of your piano.
- Don’t allow liquids or drinks anywhere near your piano.
- Keep general clutter around the instrument to an absolute minimum.
Of course certain other furniture such as dedicated lighting fixtures or a well chosen piano stool are the exception here, however ultimately if it is deteriorating the impact your piano has on the room, then perhaps reconsider where it’s positioned!
In terms of finishes on your piano, generally speaking the most common colours found on pianos are: Blacks, Whites and Mahogany. These can generally either be satin (matte – most commonly found on digital instruments) or traditional polished finishes (which really help enhance an instrument’s shine and naturally help draw the eye towards them. To learn more on how to clean and polish your piano to keep this sheen, read our blog here. Other shades of browns or specialist colours are available, but they are few and far between.
Likewise, something to consider here is the cabinet design. Traditional or modern cabinet designs are both available and depending on both personal preference and the intended space for the piano, both can have incredible impacts.
This is generally the most true on upright pianos, but the same can be said for some home digital instruments too. The main difference between the two generally comes down to the use of added legs and castors for the piano. This is generally considered a more traditional design and is often preferred by many because of the castors allowing for minimal movement, but also the enhanced sense of grandeur and impact that a piano with legs can have compared to one without.
However for those in modern, sleek or minimalist living spaces, a modern piano is a fantastic choice that can really add a sense of elegance and sophistication into the room.
Ultimately, the decision is up to you and your requirements, however we hope this post has helped offer some suggestions or concepts into your piano purchasing journey! If you’d like to learn more about the best place to position your piano or would like expert assistance, we’d love to hear from you! Contact our experts today.