10 Grooving Conversation Pits From Back in the Day

I guess you could say one of my retro-related regrets is that I've never been in a home that had a sunken room, or conversation pit. I think my first introduction to the interior design feature was when I saw the Beatles' quirky house in the movie HELP! for the first time -- remember John's below floor level bed in the Fabs' living room? Don and Megan Draper also had a pretty snazzy sunken living room in their NYC apartment on Mad Men. But in real life, I just haven't had the good fortune yet to see one in person. 

That may change because I've been reading that conversation pits—sometimes referred to as a grooving area—may be poised to make a comeback, or at least they're finding their way into much newer homes from what I've seen on interior decorating sites. However, the photos of sunken living areas that are being added to the newer homes can't compare to the images of ones from the '60s and '70s. There's something about a conversation pit that makes it better matched to a house constructed during one of those decades -- it probably has to do with the surrounding decor and the general atmosphere. 

To see what I mean, here are vintage photos of conversation pits gleamed from Pinterest and Flickr that are definitely ten of the coolest sunken living areas I've ever seen...maybe you'll agree as well.

#1: The Pool View Pit

Talk about having the best of both worlds...and it appears to have a mirrored ceiling as well. 

#2: The Party Time Pit

This is easily my favorite of the ten...you have a sunken entertainment center complete with an organ (someone notify Roger Sterling), colorful furniture, a modern wall decoration and of course, plenty of '70s plants again. How cool would it have been to throw a shindig in this space?

#3: The Psychedelic Pit

I actually don't know how old this photo is, but this conversation pit is very Peter Max and Austin Powers; groovy, baby!

#4: Quality Father-Son Time Pit

And they're getting ready to enjoy a meal...where's the fondue pot?

#5: The Organic Pit

This one reminds me of The Flintstones with its stone seating, palm trees, and table carved out of a tree trunk. Definitely a yabba-dabba-DO!

#6: The Shaggy Pit

This is actually from a 1966 tile advertisement but what drew my attention was the orange shag carpeting. In front of the fireplace, it looks like a cozy place to take a nap. 

#7: The Teen Party Pit

They have a fire pit in the pit for roasting marshmallows...and ah yes, a photo of a vintage teen party wouldn't be complete without the requisite guitar sitting off to the side. 

#8: The Coffee and Cigarettes Pit

That pretty much sums it up.

#9: The Pleasure Pit

This is how you do it: good music on a quad stereo set-up, shaggy carpeting, a leopard print pillow, and your other half in your cozy pit o' love. 

#10: The Hot Tub Pit

Just when you think you've seen every outrageous possibility in '70s decor, you come across a photo of a jacuzzi in someone's living room floor. 

Screenshot from a porn flick, or someone's actual house? You decide. 

Did you grow up in a house that had a conversation pit, or do you currently live in one or know someone who does?


  1. These pits are far out! But y'know, it seemed like in the 70s, the "sunken room" was a standard thing. Walk into the Brady Bunch house, you had to step down into the livingroom. But it was more apartments than houses--Mary Tyler Moore & Bob Newharts apartments were step-down. So was the 'The Odd Couple', even poor Laverne & Shirley's basement digs was step-down! It's not the same as pits, but still...

  2. Good observation, Doug! There's a Peter Sellers movie that I haven't seen yet called The Party that features a groovy conversation pit with the fire pit in the center.

  3. Here's a clip showing the conversation pit and oh boy, this movie is considered very un-PC, I'm sure. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03QHVB_n6N8

  4. My Dad built our sunken living room - green and orange shag so deep we lost our pet Gerbils in it! Aquariums were also his thing - up to 10 and a few were built into the bedroom walls - lighted at night. A furniture store owner, and a previous carpenter, we had all the "mod" stuff (and not so mod like Mediterranean and later a French Provincial formal living room) and he built it as he remodeled our many homes (and his shag carpeted Van) over the years. We learned to love the vacuum and the aquarium cleaner. And to hate natural christmas trees for the dried needles. My favorite - a 4 foot square, burgundy corduroy pillow that we would all hang out and watch TV.
    Evoked great memories; Thanks Pam!


  5. Jeff - I hear ya!

    SAHD - Wow, your dad sounds sooooooo hip and so does his house! Thanks for sharing.

  6. And just on the side- John Lennon had a cool sunken bed in 'Help!'


    I want a living room like Don and Megan Draper!


  7. And as to that picture-- I know that's a real celebrity's home -- was it Curt Jergins, or maybe Stewart Granger? I remember seeing it before...

  8. Replies
    1. The last one with the furry couches and the grey haired guy enjoying the ladies...

  9. Wait a minute... is that Joe Biden in the final picture?

    If so, it would certainly explain a lot ;)

  10. LOL...I thought he looked like Bob Uecker!

  11. What a great post. I grew up in a house with the requisite 70s sunken living room complete with fake wood paneling, golden rod colored shag carpet, wet bar, and a full size billiard table! Ahhh, those were the days! Thanks for bringing back the memories!!

  12. When I was young in the early 80's we lived in a house in the Beverly Hills mountain that was obviously from that era, as it has a sunken living room area, along with a bar and an interior glassed plant room in the center of the house. Very groovy, save for the mountain wolves that would occasionally wander in our backyard.

    I guess these pits went out of fashion when those adults grew a bit older and began tripping down.

    There was a book that came out a few years ago called "Interior Desecrations" about 70's design (though making fun of it, unfortunately).

  13. These bygone styles seem so much fun. I hate to say it, but it almost seems as if our society has forgotten how to let itself go like this. There doesn't seem to be such a thing as "hip" or "cool" anymore, at least not with the sense of fun that you see in things from the '60s, '70s and '80s. (On the other hand, let me acknowledge that I would have been out of place in some of the old time swinging parties, not unlike the character in that clip... so there's two sides to this I guess.)


    1. Lazlo H

      "(On the other hand, let me acknowledge that I would have been out of place in some of the old time swinging parties..."

      Funny how that works sometimes, isn't it?

      We sometimes miss something even when we know we wouldn't partake in it.

      I look back on the 60's Counter-Culture admirably, yet know I would not have been part of it.

  14. Only 25 but, the 70's architecture and interior design has always been such an interest to me. It's hard to learn to much about because even if a house has a relatively unchanged exterior, the interior has always been remodeled severely. Mid-century moderns seem to hold more of the vibe from the era than say your typical ranch or California Contemporary as the straight lines, open floor plans and plenty of natural lighting seem most architecturally consistent with 70's inspiration. I understand that ranch style was the most typical but, people seem to plain redo so much of them compared to mid century modern.

    My dream would be to find a house untouched for last 50 years and retain as much far-out inspiration as possible. More realistically, buying a mid-cantury modern with flat roofs and open windows, installing a sunken living room and conversation lounge, complete with a floating fire place. I think mainly I would change the color pallet of the era. So many rooms are puked over with biegy colors, I would use them as accents. Burnt orange, avacado, mustard- cool! But not as the only colors in a room and definitely not shoved into a wood-panneled room.

    Concrete floors, white walls, stainless still over chrome... I'd make those changes. I love the bathrooms that are surrounded with plants and have windows looking out at more plants. Seems so peaceful.

    Rant over because this is a dead but awesome post!

    1. Sorry you missed the crazy 60's & 70's, but all is not lost! You can get this dream house, right now, and retain its vintage features, including the Southwestern style conversation pit! How cool is that?https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/1616-Jordan-Logan-Rd-Santa-Fe-NM-87507/6845336_zpid/

  15. I had an uncle in Dallas who had a couple of places with sunken living rooms. It seemed to me like he was moving all the time. Moved at least 4 times in 10 years.


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