Cohost J. here. Not to be all reaction-y, but a post on Dwell.com says that living room conversation pits are back in vogue. I guess I am reacting to it here, because it’s been a few days since our last “Tag” post due to a combo of busy-ness and not feeling inspired in either direction. Love or hate, after all, are meant to be the extremes. So, thank you Dwell for doing the work for me!
Anyway…so Dwell’s post covers the greatest hits of conversation pits, a few of which you’ve probably seen on Ye Olde IG lately. The purple one, for sure.
I’m a fan–mostly because I’m a fan of promoting conversations between people, and a dedicated space to do that gets a thumb’s up in my book. Of course, if you have a podcast, you’re pretty much an advocate for conversations anyway.
Are they for everyone? No. Will their revival be seen as yet another blip on the design trend timeline? Almost certainly. But as one Dwell commenter points out, perhaps they’re cool again because we’ve developed another type of living space: the media room. If that’s where the TV is, that leaves the traditional living room up for grabs as the spot for non-digital interaction. Though my house doesn’t have a sunken conversation pit, we treat it as if it had one: the family room in the basement is for TV watching (and kids, mostly) while the living room is really “the daddies’ cocktail lounge.” It’s great for drinking, but also magazine reading (hullo), book reading, listening to music, and all the stuff that’s impossible when there’s a TV in the room. It’s a conversation pit without the pit.
So if you can build one (or buy a house with one, don’t fill it in just yet) go for it. The outdoor versions may be more feasible and longer-lasting, trendwise, anyway.
And also, as another Dwell commenter points out, their timeline leaves out one of the most iconic sunken living rooms of all time: the fireplace ringed by couches in the 1968 Blake Edwards movie, The Party. It may have one of the coolest sets ever put on film. (Hmm, maybe a CBB movie night is in order!) There’s not only the conversation pit to ogle: there’s a crazy indoor water feature with a stepping stone path, planters, multiple pools, killer chandeliers, and the fact that the conversation pit is also kinda a two-tiered affair. If you haven’t seen it, check it out for the decor alone!
And for the record, our friends Brian and Chris, referenced regularly on our show, do indeed have a sunken living room in their big MCM party house in Poughkeepsie.