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Feel Like a Little Chat? The Conversation Pit Is Back—and It’s Better Than Ever

Photo courtesy of Domus Nova via Houzz

Back in the day—by which we mean the era of “The Brady Bunch” and “Mad Men”—conversation pits were all the rage. Back then, people would gather in these plush, often sunken chill zones, sip a Manhattan, and chat about the news of the day.

Well, what’s old is new again, as the saying goes.

Lately, we’ve seen a grand resurgence of the conversation pit as a design trend. This architectural amenity actually makes sense after years of COVID-19-induced isolation, which has caused many of us to crave face-to-face connection. Plus, this layout is a solid solution for keeping your living room feeling open and airy without the weight of cluttered furniture.

If you’re digging the vibe of a conversation pit for your pad, here’s what you need to know about the origins of this setup, why it’s returning to homes across the nation, and how to bring this funky, functional amenity home.

What is a conversation pit?

A conversation pit is just what it sounds like: a sunken area in the floor of a living room or den that features a built-in sofa around the perimeter.

“These spots were designed as a central point to hang out and chat,” says Kara Harms, design expert at Whimsy Soul.

Conversation pits rose in popularity during the mid-20th century in large part because they were an intimate place for folks to gather, listen to music, imbibe, and—most importantly—interact face to face.

They are typically found in homes, but they’ve also appeared in public settings, including The Sunken Lounge at the newly refurbished TWA Hotel at Kennedy Airport in New York City.

Why conversation pits fell out of favor

The art of conversation fell by the wayside—and so did the sunken pits.

“These spaces saw a decline as people shifted from having face-to-face conversations to consuming media on digital devices,” says Harms.

In the latter few decades of the 20th century, gathering around the TV became the norm and the conversation pit became all but obsolete.

But in recent years, homeowners have been craving the kind of interpersonal connection that a conversation pit can provide.

How to create a conversation pit in your home

Photo by Jaffa Group Design Build 

Creating an actual conversation pit in your home would require construction, and some homeowners may be inclined to fully commit to that type of architectural change.

But if digging out your living room isn’t feasible, setting up a seating area inspired by the groovy conversation pit is possible.

The first step is to choose the color scheme and pieces that fit your home’s style. Sofas or sectionals pushed together will most resemble a conversation pit. But Pamela O’Brien of Pamela Hope Designs notes that you don’t have to lean on sofas to get the look you want.

“We’re designing more lounge areas with four chairs around a central table or ottoman for many of our clients,” says O’Brien. “And in some cases, we are ordering comfy club or swivel chairs so people can sit in and face each other for conversations.”

These setups can even be arranged in a large main bedroom or a children’s playroom where screens aren’t allowed.

Some homeowners may want to put a 21st-century spin on their conversation pit.

“I’d personally design a convo pit that can also be used as a movie theater space with a drop-down screen and modern tech such as smart lights to add to the mood,” says Harms.

One facet of the original conversation pit that’s not required to pull off the look? That dated shag carpet.

Harms does note that retro-leaning mustard yellow is a hot color right now and recommends considering this hue for your living room space.

The post Feel Like a Little Chat? The Conversation Pit Is Back—and It’s Better Than Ever appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

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