When you are writing, it kind of eats up your brain, so you get 25% processing power for everything else. Quotes from this week for your laughing pressure.
Me: I need lamps.
Me: Lamps! For pantry.
Me: It’s not working.
Gordon: Do you mean fluorescent bulbs?
Me: Yes! The light is barely working in there because the bulbs are burned out.
Gordon: This fucking sucks. No. ::puts hand over face:: No, I can’t.
Me: We will put it back once we fix it.
Gordon: I know and it will be better. I don’t have to like it.
::deletes 3,000 words:::
Me: Look, no oil.
C, Kid 1’s boyfriend: Nod.
Gordon, coming to the table.
Me: No oil.
Gordon, who is used to random things said at him by now: Nod.
Kid 1 comes to the table.
Me: The new Le Creuset pan is amazing. I made three omelets without oil and they all slid off the pan beautifully.
Kid 1: That’s nice, Mom.
Gordon: Did you know that those sunken living rooms in 70’s that everyone is trying to redo now? They were called conversation pits.
Me: What? Do they like throw you into the pit and only one person comes out?
Gordon: Probably. Also, what was the prize for winning? Groovy fondue?
Okay those of you who were alive in the 70’s, what was up with conversation pits? Like how was this tripping hazard and dirt collecting area sold as the coolest design element ever?
My grandma had a sunken living room in the house they built in 1960. At 75ish, she fell and broke her leg on the stair. ????♀️
Sorry, that wasn’t clear. They lived in there from 1960-2010, but she broke it when she was 75, or so. I do not recommend them.
Rita Webb says
No, you explained it just fine. I understood without the clarifications.
My first thought of the conversation pit is I think its cute that they think I would use the stairs like a civilized person instead of just stepping on the couch like the lazy savage that I am. Also within a day 99% of the pillows would live on the floor. It would become the pillow pit.
I do think it does look neat even if it is impractical.
Sara B. says
Oh – that would be cool — convert the 70’s conversation pits into ball pits, like in a children’s play area. Trays of drinks and snacks could just ride on top of the balls as people waded and swam around to other folks.
Laura Attoe says
I looked for photos of this, but could not find any. Many other things have been turned into ball pits though.
Mix in alcohol for the adults and it could be an awesome time in the ball pit
Joann K says
Weren’t they the prelude to a key party? ????♀️????
Oh Snap!! So glad I had not taken a drink from my water bottle first!!
That’s a good one – something I had forgotten about hearing my parents whisper solemnly, “they’re one of those ‘key people'”
Years later learning what that meant, boy put a whole new light on some of my classmates parents!!
Diane Wilson says
Quoting Firesign Theatre (also from the 70s): Nah, only half a key. I split it with the sound effects guy.
Theater in the ’70’s was a very interesting place, indeed!
Also from Firesign Theatre:
–I’ve forgotten the key.
–That’s okay. I’ve got a lid in the car.
Google not helping. I’m imagining swinging parties or cannabis. What is ‘key’ in thus context?
@Jo You’re close with both the swinging parties and the cannabis. Everyone dropped their house key in a bowl then went home with whoever pulled it out. There was lots of booze and grass involved.
Sara T says
I hadn’t a clue either. Thanks for the explanation Sandra.
Check out the Ang Lee movie “The Ice Storm” for a key party. That was my introduction to the term.
With all those “conveniently cushioned spaces” in that conversation pit pictured, I think just a general orgy would work quite well. LOLOL
You ever see the participaction on swinging?
Just as funny now as it was then.
This will never get old for me, just like your books
Also, if your wondering which I’m sure you not, these temps are in Celsius.
(Did you see the same news crew trying out Christmas recipes? Even funnier!! (Just the title – ‘Holiday artichoke dip goes terribly wrong on-air’ makes me howl)
Tell you what, those Calgarians!)
I love you. This was hilarious. I laughed so hard it hurt. I’m also confused cause I’m from Alberta how did I miss this.
Wow, I had to look that up. I guess I have led a really sheltered life.
Patricia Schlorke says
I wonder if the conversation pits were used for bean bags back in the 70s? My parents didn’t have a conversation pit. All the living rooms I wandered around in during the 70s were the normal, everyday living space. No pits around. 🙂
Thank you for the other conversations in the post. I needed a good laugh when my brain is at 25% capacity.
You saw them on celebrity talk show sets or in celebrity based movies where everyone had expensive parties – a la Hugh Hefner themes-more a 60’s thing rather than the 70’s. Because they were ridiculously impractical design moved on to the sectional sofas where you could get the grouped setting without the hole in the floor.
I lived through the 70s and never saw one of those in real life. Plenty of green shag carpet tho. Sadly, my current home has an addition that includes a living room that’s one cinder block (9”/23 cm) lower than the original portion of the house. Probably dates to the 70s—perhaps a “poor man’s” attempt at a sunken living room. It’s ridiculous and I despair of it.
Please include something like this in one of your stories so we can all shake our heads in confuzzlement. ???? ????
If it’s like the house I grew up in, we enclosed the carport. So the Florida (aka TV) room was one step down from the rest of the house. It did have orange shag carpet. I had to rake it every week as part of my household chores.
Kimberly au Telemanus says
Rake it?!? Like with an actual rake?! I love this so much. Please give me more details!????
Yep. You’d vacuum then go over the carpet with a big plastic rake, like a leaf rake, to fluff it and make the fibers stand up. And then rake again between vacuums to fluff high traffic areas. Apparently you can still buy shag rakes on Amazon and at Walmart. Though the modern ones look more like carders or cat brushes than rakes. I didn’t know shag was still a thing.
Or you can just use a rake… a leaf rake. Not the solid rakes
We had to rake BEFORE vacuuming to find things like jacks or coins that were hiding in the carpet. Each room had a different color of shag carpet. Gold, green, blue and red. Oh my!
I recall pulling up all the multi-hued shag in my mother in law’s house. Gold, blue, green, pink….
Yes! I don’t remember shag fondly for that reason!
I’ve just spat tea EVERYWHERE ????????????????
So a “shag” in British slang means, well, “getting laid”. So my mind immediately thought “you need new toys” ????????????????
I think its because of building code. My grandparents house was built in the late 1800s, and when they had an addition built in the 70s, the required height of the foundation wall from ground to floor was different than the rest of the house. (I’m sure there was no building code when it was first built). So the big kitchen she added was 6 inches higher than the rest of the house. I’m sure whoever buys their house when they pass (hopefully not for many more years) will wonder why there is a step up into the kitchen 🙂
I will never think of the Otrokar fire pits the same way again!
My first reaction is why would you want your head level with the surrounding floor? It would be giving my children perfect opportunity to jump on us without much warning. . . compared to climbing the couch and sitting on our shoulders/head lol.
Plus I already fall down our stairs on a regular basis, no need to add more.
I “think” the idea of the conversation pit was akin to an amphitheater where the audience can all see/hear whats going on with the conversation… the folks IN the pit can take part, but folks that stand AROUND the pit can too… absolute genius for the “party at my place” crowd… most of which were either younger or D.I.N.Ks (Double Income No Kids)… For the rest of us… yeah…. totally impractical…
Yep. That was the “idea” — those in the pit were the “in crowd” that everyone walked around and could watch while still conversing with others — at least in my experiences. We didn’t have one — had red, green, and yellow shag carpet (one color in each bedroom and green in the smallest bedroom and down the hall).
Considering the 2 families I knew that had the Pit — yeah, in hind sight, Key Parties probably explain their choice conversation seating. O_o
And boy, do I wish I hadn’t figured that out as an adult.
I was a 70’s child/80’s teenager – the house I grew up in was an old farm house that the town grew around it. So no conversation pit.
However, there was the very small step down in the hallway from the front of the house (living room, parent’s bedroom and my grandmother’s bedroom) into the back half of the house – added on sometime before my parents bought it – which had the kitchen, bathroom & utility room.
That step for everyone was a death-trap waiting to happen at one point or another.
Me – rushing through the house to exit the backdoor for some child-must-do-now reasoning. Hallway/forget step down is there/faceplant on floor
Dad – there’s a step there…
Me – thanks Dad
Few years later…..
Dad: (having had a few or more beers with friends on our patio headed bed): trips going up said step = faceplant into what is now my bedroom door.
Me: Hey Dad, there’s a step there
Dad: …$#@#$#@, %#$@$
Me: *snickers behind pillow* whispers…payback!
My husband is a GC. He’s taken out more of these sunken living rooms than you can imagine. Also the drop down sunshine ceilings. What was up with that? Anyone over 6ft was always ducking in the kitchen… I blame the drugs in the 70’s…
How do you take out a sunken pit? Lots and lots and lots of concrete?
I mean, you’d just fill it in with normal floor framing so it was level with the rest of the floor.
Didn’t the TV show “Matt Houston” have a conversation pit in Houston’s house?
Cymru Llewes says
The original Highlander movie had one in Connor MacLeod’s place and it was in a room by itself surrounded by weapon stands. I thought it was cool.
https://i.pinimg.com/originals/b8/dd/38/b8dd3844769b76e108f1b3fe141f4a20.jpg. yeah, I still think it is cool.
Gaëlle from France says
Hum….Ilona, blaming all the weirdness on the writing stuff…
Me, looking at other author behavior…. Don’t look so weird to me.
May I ask if you both were totally « normal » before all of this ?? ????
Multi level homes. If you read design magazines from 70s you will see that the idea of a step up or a step down was tres chic. A conversation pit was streamlined and modern. Look! No sofa! Just pillows on the steps. Hmmm, kind of like half the outdoor deck designs I see now. The pit also tipped its hat to the idea of the swinging seventies where you and twenty of your friends could get cozy. There had to be shag carpet in there too.
I once house/cat sat over a holiday weekend at a house that was multi level and had a pit. Cats loved it. I thought it was a death trap.
This make me think of the Uber popular stair gathering point in business buildings today- looks pretty but ridiculous as far as functionality
I am an House Hunters fiend. I love that show to see how ridiculous the buyers are (and to torture myself for the markets in other cities). I do not understand the absolute HATRED people have for multi-level (split level and tri-level) homes that people have. I grew up in what I know realize was a split-level condo and I loved the lay out. We never used our front door for our entrance/exit so coming in through the garage felt like a two level. There was nice separation of the two living spaces (family room in the basement and living room on the upstairs next to the kitchen). The house WAS built in the 70s.
And I thought my friends were cool for having a “teen” phone. Never heard of a conversation pit. It does look kinda cool, but yeah, I can see myself carrying a big basket of laundry or groceries or something and miscalculating where the pit is and falling in. Isn’t that what happens with pools? This is the indoor, furniture version of a pool. Just make sure you have a lot of pillows to cushion your fall.
Just think of how much dogs would love that playing in that thing.
Lynn Thompson says
Bwah ha ha. Thank you, Ilona Andrews, for the hilarious post.
Perhaps I should explain. Mother has senile dementia. At 77 years young, she doesn’t remember any of our names nor proper names of other things. So she will say lamps for example and then can not tell us any specifics. I finally narrowed down last month to the sealed safety light unit in the foyer ceiling needed to be replaced because after 20 years it burned out. Sigh That requires an electrician, it’s not a DIY replace bulb job.
Thank you for the laugh. We don’t allow Mother in kitchen anymore after multiple fire department visits. Thank goodness for those Amazon.com auto out range top fire suppression units. Still are replacing microwaves every 3 to 6 months after she microwaves teaspoons in her coffee cup. No she is not supposed to be microwaving anything. Sigh. Oh the nonstick pan surfaces, she said we’re dirty and basically removed the non stick surface. Sigh. ????????. So count your blessings and enjoy life.
Strange, I microwave my tea tankard (.7l) with the spoon in.
Maybe 2-3 times a day, for years, never had to replace a single microwave.
HMMM. AS I recall it was the 70’s version of the Romans lounging around on couches eating, drinking & smoking weed. Don’t remember anybody getting OUT of one now that you mention it.
Sarah O says
Yes, this is interesting. I was thinking of Puebloan kivas. The idea of descending down into the earth for communication and spiritual rites is really fascinating and it would not shock me if 60’s and 70’s architects were doing a little cultural borrowing (I assume not full-on appropriation, because there are only similarities, not specific, analogous features).
I can see how someone tripping on hallucinogens might find a conversation pit very womb-like and safe? I’ve never done anything like that (I’m an anxious type), but I have been with people on mushrooms and they would have loved a conversation pit.
Only useful thing I could think of was a play area for kids. No toys allowed out of the area and great climbing practice then throw in one of the mini trampolines and get flying kids. OMG think of the opportunities for havoc.
I walked downstairs one day and found the neighborhood kids jumping off the pool table into a brand new recliner totally destroying the seat springs. Giggle, so many stories with kids.
Deb on Puget Sound says
My grandkids played hide-and-go seek in the washing machine. One new washing machine later…… My daughter was P.O.ed , but I was rolling with laughter.
We never had the pit in any house we were in but we were on the poor side. However I remember plaid and floral sofas. Plus don’t forget the shag carpeting. ???????????? my Mom was pretty particular on colors and hated the orange and the Avocado green that was popular then so We didn’t have that in our homes.
Conversation pits were awesome for group make out sessions aka teen parties. Talking went on intermittently, I suppose. ????
And everyone could get to the snacks, when we came up for air.
They were horrible and hideously uncomfortable! Usually the seating was just wood benches covered with shag carpet. The same shag carpet on the floor just came up and over the benches. I hated them even then.
I had no idea sunken living rooms were ever a thing. How ugly and how unsafe. Also learned what a key party was, this blog is always so educational and entertaining.
Orgies and stuff
Nobody I knew had a conversation pit in their house. More like some old sofas in the basements that were ok for kids to ruin,
However, no tv, no plugins so you’re either talking or reading or other stuff nudge wink 😉
3000 words deleted. Ouch I feel for you.
When I have a brain burp and can’t remember the word for something – my husband supplies the word and I reply: Exactly. You know what I mean jelly bean ????
Kat M. says
I want a couch pit so bad.
Sara B. says
I remember that my ballet teacher had a sunken pit in front of her fireplace in their living room. I was only there a couple of times, but it was the epitome of “cool” to a 14-15 year-old in the 70’s.
Judy Schultheis says
I actually never figured the conversation pit out. The ones I saw were always way too big to actually talk to anybody on the other side of them. I remember somebody I knew speculating that they might be useful for orgies. I was even less interested in trying that idea out.
After college, a friend bought their first home-an unupdated 70s era townhouse in Houston. The wet bar was odd but ok. The Roman bath with 3 mirrored walls was just crazy! We made lots of Roman orgy jokes.
I was not alive in the 70s. I was barely alive in the 80s. I was somewhat alive in the 90s, but I was so sleep deprived in the aughts that I’m not sure it counted. The 10s killed me and the 20s have sucked the marrow from my bones.
The point is, I would be so happy to fight in the conversation pit for some groovy fondue. I volunteer as tribute for this gladiatorial combat and melty cheese.
Beth Colsher says
It looks very ancient Roman. Imagine: my own impluvium. How cool would that be?
The “conversation pit” looks like a dog designed it. Seriously, my two dogs and one cat would go berserk and be in love with that. I can see them running full force to land on the couch and curling up for a while, then getting the zoomies and hopping in and out of there. Humans, not so much. So which ’70’s designer got their animals involved in the design process?
We have a corner where we use two perpendicularly arranged armchair/sofas to create a mostly-contained squareish space we filled with stuffed animals and Squishmallows. It’s like a big box. Just dive in! It’s the most popular spot in the house. Very cosy. I find sleeping family members in there frequently. We call it the “fuzzy pit” or “stuffy pit”. All the fun of an actual pit without the tripping/fallling hazard!
Sandy F says
No conversation pit like that but our den was lower than the rest of the house and covered in terrazzo. We would run down the bedroom hallway and used the drop to slide across the den floor straight into the gun cabinet. Mom was just happy we were busy and not killing each other or breaking things. It was supposed to be cool, it was just a trip hazard.
Valerie in CA says
I wasn’t very old then but I will tell you….. they were….
Orgy spaces without using a small bedroom. Lots of room.
Groovy 70’s thing
(Childhood friend- his mom was a free loving hippie)
Place: San Francisco California (or thereabouts)
Mary Beth says
My sister called them porn pits. She once told me that only drug dealers had them.
Makes me want to call her up and ask how she figured that out when we were kids.
I had forgotten them until this blog post.
Tammy S says
My high school had one of these pits in the common area back in the day… probably still does for all I know. We students spent a lot of time there. Not that it was comfortable- far from it. But it was ‘cool’ to lounge around with all your friends.
Cheryl M says
???????? Yes there are things from the 70s that should STAY in the ‘70s. I remember looking at houses with my parents that had sunken bathtubs in the main bedroom. ???? Being drunk and trying to navigate that would have been rather, Uhm, entertaining. As for the cool factor of the conversation pit, just watch some movies from the era. Oh, and Austin Powers.
Never saw one in anyone’s house, but they were probably standard issue at the Playboy Club mansions (hello Chicago, the original one) and for the houses of the film stars out in Hollywood, CA.
Supposedly tres chic…
as long as you had housekeeping staff…????????????
How can you not see that these pits were and are cool? Imagin going down, sinking into the plush, reading … you can literally hide in plain sight and it’s cosy and airy and various other things …… Of course – they only work in huge rooms … 😉 In small rooms: not so much to horrible …….
I’m from the west coast – I suspect split levels were a response to ranch houses on slabs from the 50s and 60s. That, or a tamer version of hot tubs and peacock feathers … seriously, after the 60s (protests, be-ins, rtc.) there was a big push for group activities and “rapping” in the early-mid 70s …
And this sounds as good an explanation as any …
I love the idea of a pit fight, with fondue for the winner!
There were a lot of drugs in the 70s, just saying.
I remember looking at a older house in the late 80s, sunken living room and sunken TUB!! I had a new baby at the time and just noped away from that tub, lol.
I was young in the 70’s and our home had a trip hazard, it was mainly used by the cat when he stole a ball of yarn from mom’s basket and turned it into yarn art limbo. When this happened we called it thunderstorm because that’s what it sounded like when we tripped over the yarn art and yelled in anger and anguish the pit would echo the sound. Otherwise it was the pretty room we looked at and didn’t enter it’s where the nice furniture was put for adults to adult.
I only knew 1 person with a conversation pit (70s teenager). Her father was the head of anesthesiology at the hospital. As I recall it was off to the side through an archway? They also had a rec room.
In the 70s, I finished college, got a job, and stayed with my parents in their 1951 ranch with level floors. Aside from the (cavernous, it was a big house for the time,) basement, we had 3 steps down to the “Florida room”. That was trip hazard enough. Visiting college friends around the Detroit area, some in wealthier areas and newer homes, I still never saw an actual conversation pit. Possibly it was a regional thing.
I only remember it being a “grown-ups only” area.
Kelly J Jacobs says
The Beatles !
Their movie HELP, had separate entry doors to their shared house had a sunken bed.
When I saw your picture I smiled fondly recalling the Beatles movie with the best music!
Toni Covington says
In the 70’s there were no cell phones and it was rude to have a TV on during any social events so we sat around looking fabulous and TALKED!! And sometimes drank a cocktail. I never saw anyone trip into a conversation pit. I am sure that it happened but…. Of course it was also the era of carpet in the bathroom so maybe we were too stoned from the 60’s to think 70’s home design through.
In the 90s I visited friends who lived in a huge Victorian house that had been a rental place for 25+ years. The beige shag carpet was so filthy I imagined entire civilizations carrying on beneath our feet. Think Horton Hears a Who, but nasty! I still get the shudders remembering it.
I first read GRAVY fondue-there is an idea!! Mmmm, steak, sausage to dunk!!
Debra Henn says
Our cabin in Big Bear had one. It seemed super cool and different at first and it was useful once when the heat wasn’t working and it was 30 degrees outside. We had brought another family and we all huddled together in the pit with the kids on the inside to sleep that night. After the heater was fixed though, we had to keep pillows in it because the littles kept falling into it. Good times, lol.
I think they just make a mistake by putting couches. Just throw beds, big cushions and two or three stands for entertainment holding, some low light for reading and you have a proper pit.
Lol. I saw the conversation pit and instantly thought of Austin Powers. Maybe one of the movies had one.
I grew up in a beautiful probably very haunted Victorian farm house situated between a gothic cemetery and the police station… surrounded by corn fields. No pits, except for the pool my dad let nature have. (Yeah so when poltergeist came out I was 7 and never slept well again until my 30s)
Very entertaining to read comments …I’m a month into a new job that requires a lot of brain. In a lab environment with lots of compliance rules. My bandwidth at end of day is about enough to pet the cats and watch Sabrina on Netflix. ???? I couldn’t think of the words Buffalo sauce. They became “fluffaluff foof” or something…” “just eat it family!” It’s a great job though.
???? ???????? I always thought they were pretty cool actually ????
I worked in a HS that had a conversation pit in one of the lobby areas. I’m amazed it never got filled in, but the upperclassmen faithfully congregated in the pit every morning.
About ten years ago, my husband and I were house hunting when the realtor took us to see a new listing she had not viewed. It had a 4-inch step up from the front entry to the kitchen, a step down from the kitchen to the hall, and a 4-inch step down from the kitchen to the living room. It also had a sunken area in the living room that might have been a conversation pit. All of the floors were tiled. The three of us made it to the middle of the kitchen, stopped, and stared. My husband said, “All it would take is one late-night trip for a drink of water and I would be a widower”. We didn’t view the rest of the house.
Melissa Tovgaard says
Ouch to the deletion of 3,000 words ????
Conversation pits today would be comsidered a safety hazard and require the installation of a safety rail (to code, of course) designed to keep small children, the elderly, and drunken guests from tumbling in and hurting themselves.
Or turn them intona GIANT ball pit for the kids and dogs!
Sharon Fletcher says
Looking at that “conversation pit” I see one big pillow fight.
I love those no oil pans for eggs, but for most of my cooking I prefer bacon grease in cast iron.
Yes! Or a dab of garlic butter
Going against the trend here. Grew up in a house with a conversation pit – loved it. Parents still live there. It’s great. Cosy place to sit in winter. Allows cool teenage sprawl on floor while one arm propped up and homework spread over higher ground. Mad cat frisking can lie on side and zoom around edges. Small children can build wicked forts with the floor sofa cushions. The pros far outweigh the cons.
I suspect I’d love it far more as a small child than as an adult afraid of falling. I’d have to put a rail on one side of the steps. But I can see the fort possibilities–I built elaborate ones as a child.
Bill from NJ says
Where I lived in the burbs houses didn’t have them, but I did have a relative in an upscale burb who did have one. They were part of what I like to call the ‘clever 70s’ where people came up with all these things to show they were with it. Conversation pits were designed with the ‘dinner party cleverness’ ( yep fondue was part of that,), where you had a dinner party and this was a place to hang out and have ‘interesting’ conversations, I guess it was kind of their version of the Algonquin round table ( which like 1970s dinner parties is more myth than reality, in terms of being cool or level of conversation).
The relative that had the house in Westchester county had a wife who was that pretentious ( I think she was a grade school teacher). My mom, who did the Times crossword puzzle in ink in 20 minutes and read books by the gross ( and would have loved this blog and the IA books,guaranteed) , said it was a bunch of pretentious idiots who bought books to display on their tables or bookshelves but couldn’t understand them…needless to say my mom thought the conversation pit was more like a black hole, no thoughts in or out…..
They were popular among a certain strata of ppl in California, need I say more….they often seemed to show up in the houses they filmed porn films in ( prob still do) in the San Fernando Valley, prob cause they could rent them cheaply.
Yep,key party were swingers parties. Usually from what I read ( was a snarky teen in the 70s) the women would put their key in and guys would draw from the bowl, though I am sure the other way did. Kind of wonder these days if they exist with all the wide variation w sex attraction,if they have parties where everyone throws a key in then you pull whoever *,lol*.
To me the 70s can be summed up by an episode of the Odd Couple, featuring a young and brilliant Albert Brooks as this 70s denizen, loud suit and afro to boot. Every word out of his mouth was like ‘It’s now, it’s happening’ *lol*.
A key party was portrayed in the movie The Ice Storm and wives were shown selecting the keys. It could easily go either way, I suppose. I was too young to be exposed to that sort of thing in the 70s.
I guess you’d need a large house to make a decent conversation pit and most middle class homes didn’t have the space. Maybe that’s why I didn’t know anyone who had one.
That’s the first thing I thought of, that one of those pits would be a good spot for passing around a joint or a pipe or something. Maybe “key” is short for kilo in this instance. I’ve never heard of the term, and I’m a child of the 70s.
The first thing I thought when I saw those slick looking wood stairs was Trip Hazard. It’d be hard to look cool when you trip & roll down those stairs 🙂 You would definitely make an entrance…but probably not what you were planning on.
I would definitely fall, even when I was young and can you imagine a guest wearing high heels?
I look at those stairs and I know I’d fall without a rail. Plus the space is so cramped.
I entered my teens in the early 70s and never knew anyone with a conversation pit. What I do remember is dark paneling that we thought was sophisticated at the time and looks cheap to me now, avocado, gold or orange* were the main color schemes, shag carpet or shag area rugs were the bomb and we heard a lot about LSD.
I grew my hair long and joined the Hare Krishna temple in my mid-teens. We sat and slept on the floor, used a lot of Indian fabrics in our rooms or homes and burned a lot of incense. The food was awesome and I’m still glad I learned how to cook a lot of Indian dishes.
*still better than the white, black and gray that seems to dominate a lot of HGTV shows now–I miss Design on a Dime because they weren’t afraid of color.
I have a sunken living room, but not a conversation pit. (1968 house) I’m not entirely happy because, if it weren’t sunken, the family room below it would have a 9’ ceiling (like the rest of the basement) instead of an 8’ ceiling. And, I mean, the living room has a cathedral ceiling anyway, so what is that extra foot really getting me?
I recommend “Interior Desecrations.” I check it every few years fearing that the photos in it will start to look “normal” to me.
Link to the new pan??
Moderator R says
I believe it’s this one ???? https://www.lecreuset.com/our-materials/toughened-nonstick-pro
Debi Majo says
I was in my 20’s in the 70’s. I never lived anyplace that had a conversation pit, or a sunken living room. My parents would never have considered one either… they liked to roll up the rug and dance! ????
Gina G says
It felt like you were hanging out at a nightclub – chill out conversations in the pit – grooving and shenanigans out of it 🙂
It was the decade that gave us moon boots, satin shorts and bell bottoms. Also mood rings, wide lapels, fat neckties and the 1971 Ford Pinto. Lest we forget, ruffled men’s tuxedo shirts. As a design element, sunken living rooms fit right in. Besides which, if you get bored, increase your enjoyment by turning it into a bacteria laden ball pit.
Indoor/outdoor carpet too. And shag carpet.
Paula Ryan says
I complete feel were Ilona is coming from. My kid put something reusable in recycling. I said, “we can still use this, it just needs to go in the…dish laundry.” as I dropped it in the sink.
My Aunt’s house had a sunken living room not a conversation pit. We called it the green room because it was the only green shag carpet in the house. It had a piano, a couch seats 3 , fireplace and the record player with book shelves. It was directly in the line of the front door. Cross the wood floor foyer sunken room. Left living room and kitchen(orange shag) and right bedrooms (blue shag). No orgies fondue or key parties to be had. Lots of forts. It was the only house of all my relatives that had 3 different colors of carpet.
Conversation pits were ways to kill off drunk party goers. They also served as play pen traps for those who had too much to drink as they were unable to successfully and safely navigate their way out. This resulted in intoxicated guests sleeping off drunken binges on smelly memory foam cushions.
Okay those of you who were alive in the 70’s, what was up with conversation pits? Like how was this tripping hazard and dirt collecting area sold as the coolest design element ever?
Coolest, it was groovy baby. My family was really religious and poor, so my living room was a bore. I watched Rowan and Martin’s Laugh in, and knew I would never be groovy. So I day dreamed about Gilligan’s Island, and Space the final frontier…, and “In a hole, in the ground, there lived a Hobbit.”
Oh right, Laugh In! I loved it! And I watched it sprawled on the rust colored shag area rug that came with our trailer. Thanks for reminding me.
I also loved Leonard Nimoy as Spock reciting the Desiderata by Max Ehrmann. I had Nimoy’s album, Two Sides of Leonard Nimoy. He sang a song about Bilbo, too.
That music stand though… OoooooOooooo!
The answer to why anything that makes no sense was popular in the 70’s: Someone was on drugs.
Emily Quinn says
Well, they never had to deal with cell phones in the day! Now there may be a problem????
My high school had 2 right in the middle of the school
Julie Richardson says
I think the pits were necessary for all the orgies.
It was about sex. Cool people had drinks and sex. Free love of the 60’s, finally made $$. Now I can have a cool sex pit.
Yeah I would even it out and have an access hatch for storage.
I was thinking that idea also… leveling and using that area for storage or something useful. Accessibility would be a major challenge, but so cool if able to be safe and easy to use.
Leigh Ann Parente says
My HS library had a conversation pit. I LIVED there. That was my domain.
True – no food in the library, and I wasn’t responsible for vacuuming that space. Still. It was a *very* groovy hang out for me from 1985-89.
Amy S says
I was a child in the 70s and unaware of most things. But I wonder, did it make the basement really short? It was it only in areas with basements. Also wouldn’t you worry about flooding if there weren’t a basement underneath? I just wonder what under the rest of the house. Seems creepy. I wonder if some of them had little doors to get into the rest of it.
I love the one in the photo! My Dad had a girlfriend in the eighties with a very cool mid century mod house in Aspen that had a conversation pit in front of a massive fireplace and us kids loved it! I also remember seeing CP’s in a few of Doris Day’s movies from the mid-sixties. Her films from that time had gorgeous fashion and period pieces. I still drool over her clothes and handbags from the “soap” film with James Garner.
Other Barbara says
I was 18 in 1970. Lived til early 80’s in upper income town’s poor section. (Montclair, NJ) I delivered books to seniors and handicapped folks for library for a few years mid decade.
I never saw a conversation pit or similar. Was this used by Richie rich folks,or cream of Debuque IA trend, or Manhattan wealth?
Saw danish modern. Saw leather wallpaper (Thomas Edison mansion has a knockoff version..he was cheap)
My Elementary school had a huge round one of these in the center of the library. It was a “reading pit” obviously since you weren’t supposed to talk.
Bill G says
A conversation pit … where conversations go to die?
Chris G says
No, that would be the conversation pit of despair ????
I have never seen or heard of a conversation pit! In the 80s, our Japanese restaurant in Baltimore had sunken tables and cushions (we took off our shoes). A conversation pit with food!
My cousin is in the middle of extending her house and they are having a conversation pit built in!! It is going to be a bit of a party pad I think. This made me chuckle.
George Bailey says
I think they did a little too much LDS ….
Those Mormons are seriously sketchy. ????
The picture you have of the conversation pit is from the Miller House in Columbus, IN designed by Eero Saarinen and Alexander Girard in 1953, not the 1970s. This was the original! It’s so stunning in person. The epitome of mid century modern and the design has so much joy in it. If you’re at all interested in mid century modern design, Columbus Indiana is a must visit.
I wasa kid in the 70s. Couldn’t tell you why they were the short-lived rage, and never saw one in person.
Tripping hazard, dust pit, and high risk of being kicked in the head.
Now I’m craving groovy fondue!
When I first saw a ‘conversation pit, I figured it was where conversation died and was buried. After attending several parties where the host corralled his guests in a conversation pit.I realized they were perfect for confining drunken guests. Put liquor outside of pit. Drunken guest goes to refuel, trips on steps. Voila! Another one down. Another one gone. Another one bites the dust.
Our house while I was growing up had gold shag carpet, and wood paneling and a dropped ceiling in the dining room. When it finally got redecorated when I was a teenager and I found out there was another ceiling above I couldn’t believe anyone would do that on purpose. More proof adults were stupid, lol. But I reused the yellow plaid curtains in my first few apartments during/ after college–so bright and cheery.
I’ve been into water poached eggs lately. I feel if I fry them either the top of the whites don’t get cooked enough, or the yolks get overcooked.
I have an egg “poacher” pan that more steams the eggs. Yummy.
Over easy eggs takes care of both, especially if the yolks don’t break when flipping over. I would poach eggs in water also, but did not like how the whites spread so much. My mom had a poacher that was a metal pot you fill with some water that had a tray with removable cups for the eggs and a lid… worked well. I found silicon cups with handles that you put in a pot with lid that would fit them… put some water in pot, spray the cups with cooking oil, add eggs and time according to size and check for doneness. Amazon has that and a few other options. Still practicing for best timing. Did not do well with a microwave poacher… it cooked the yolks before the whites.
A tasty variation is making eggs in a cloud where you whip up the whites and fashion into mini volcanos, bake, add yolks, bake a bit more and serve. It is fluffy with running yolks. Found it online… the recipe that is 450 degrees and less time gave me better results.
Kat in NJ says
Love, love, love La Creuset!!!! Hate, hate, hate conversation pits!!!(They are the pits! See what I did there?)
Sorry, in a bit of a strange mood today after the massive flooding of the last several days…
James Bond films, I think are responsible for sunken living rooms.
Kat in NJ says
My parents had an avocado green shag rug in the living room, with one wall painted burnt orange and three painted avocado green. And that was a popular design thing in the 60’s/70’s!!! What were they thinking?!!
Susan Tipton says
My in-laws have a sunken living room. They seldom use it and now that my m-i-l has difficulty walking she cannot get into her office easily (other side of the sunken living room from the rest of the house).
We went to an office party at a condo built during the 70’s. It was unique. Bedroom (only one as it was built as a bachelor pad) was completely mirrored (including the ceiling). Large bar. Lowest floor was a movie theater. Multiple bathrooms. Decorations were maintained as a 70’s style.
Most interesting thing was just outside the bedroom were two bathrooms. One for him. One for her. The back of the walk in shower in the “her” bathroom (remember this was a bachelor pad) looked normal. You pushed a certain tile and the wall swung open to a tiny room (smaller than the shower) with a door that opened onto a hidden back staircase outside of the apartment. We were told it was so he could secretly let out one girl while letting another person in the front door (second girl? husband?). It was much more interesting than my bathroom.
Is it bad that the image made me think “well, if you add a fire pit and the seats are the right height, the Horde would adore them”
Thanks also for the key party definition, Now I am having entirely weird and giggling images of a Horde Key party. ????
Dawn Shreves says
The pits made it easier to pass the bong.. ????
I was more than alive in the 70’s and the sunken living room was a huge thing in more modern homes. People socialized a lot more then…..in their houses. My aunt and uncle had a sunken living room pit like this and they had parties and bridge clubs there.
Close-up intimate seating area with forced conversation implied. An introverts nightmare, plus with my drunken friends they would be falling into the pit or doing belly flops on the couches. Reminds me a bit of a house my Dad and Stepmom were renting. In between the living room and the dining room was an area sectioned off by iron railings at either end. There was no change in floor level and it wasn’t for pets as there was open access to the area at either end. It just added to the weirdness that was that part of my family.
Terrie C says
I remember the railings they used as dividers. These metal “fences” in the middle of a room. LOL
Rita Webb says
My first thought was, oh, comfy pillows, cozy couches, I would love this. It was a pretty, happy bubble in my mind.
Now after you explained all the horrible things wrong with this design, my happy bubble is gone. Yeah, this conversation pit doesn’t make sense.
Remember there were bell bottom pants then as well. It was the usual transition of one generation defining “cool” to differentiate itself from the past. I think the extra height was an attempt to create spaciousness and the sunken pit to create a sense of coziness. Of course architects would today say that those two are in opposition.
So, does anyone still remember Dave Longaberger, who owned and ran the basket company? He had an entire department of his company dedicated to building homes, and they built him his house. The trouble was, they built it in sections, three groups of workers who started on different portions and came together, and when the sections came together, they realized that some of them were up higher than others, so his house was absolutely ridiculous with steps up and down from room to room, every room a different height. It was like walking through a maze. No matter where you were in the house, it was a step up or a step down to the next room.
Sunken living rooms were awesome at the time. Not so much today because we can’t survive without our devices. To me, the one you have pictured here is ugly because the colors are garish and there’s actually nowhere to sit with all the pillows in there. I’m older than dirt, but those steps are very deep and look safe to me. If the couches were a bit more plush, if the carpet were a different color, if the pillows were all gone, I’d like that space. I don’t see how it would collect dirt any more than any other space in the house. Vacuum cleaners are really portable these days, and the floor is just flooring. Put your widescreen TV on a wall and face it and it’s like a movie theater. I’d prefer a few recliners to sitting upright, but that’s just lazy me. I see a crowd of men for a football game, a group of children for a sleepover, and a great spot to sit and read a book for me. Then again, I could just have a bit of envy about how large that room really is. It screams for color, but not red. Close your eyes and imagine it in blues and purples with hints of greens. Yeah, there I am, right at home!
Terrie C says
A remember Longaberger. I bought one of their picnic baskets about 20 years ago and is still on marvelous condition.
Growing up in the 70s, when bunches of grade school kids had free reign, we would push couches, chairs, whatever furniture worked, all together to form a pit then filled it with the couch cushions, throw pillows, blankets, etc. They became pillow fort versions of a ball pit.
I think young adults in the 70s basically liked the pillow fort lounge concept and so came up with a way to make it a design feature.
Those conversations are wonderful! And those ‘conversation pits’ look surprisingly dangerous.
Guess I learned more about key parties today, the things you learn on the internet…
Judy B says
There is a restaurant and bar in Las Vegas (about midway on the strip) called the Peppermill. In the bar area it has the most unbelievably awesome conversation pits that you could ever imagine. They all have fire pits in the middle and they serve amazing food and drink.
L S says
Ooooo… Which Le Creuset pan???
You can see a lot more 70s design in detective shows of the era. I watched Mannix again last year (late 60s to 70s) and noticed a lot of design elements I recognized from back in the day. I lived in LA during the time frame of his later seasons so it took me back. Some of these shows are on MeTV.
Young adult of the seventies answer: Drugs.
Anyone sunken showers/bathtubs? Also from the 60s.
Terrie C says
I look at the pit and see broken arm, leg and eventually broken neck because in my morning stupor, I would trip and fall in
Have Y’all figured it out yet that everything from Home dec., clothes, food choices,
electronics, etc., etc., even the “Colors of the Season” for all of the above were designed, specifically, to get you to part with your hard-earned bucks?!!
Take the conversation pit (please). It was a spin-off of a Frank Loyd Wright house for which he designed the built-in furniture. We couldn’t put conventional furniture in a conversation pit-designed house, so all the “old” furniture had to go and all new stuff had to be bought. Retail was the only god to be worshipped.
Levi’s has a laughable (or cry-worthy) new campaign for fall called “Sustainable”
where you are encouraged to buy better and wear longer, thereby Saving The Planet. But here’s the catch — these “new” items are so noticeable for retro high-top mom jeans waists , floppy big cuffed bottoms and 80’s Japanese Avant guard jackets like Isi Miake was famous for, that come Spring, you will tear them out of your closet and replace these “Sustainable” and new items with more “Stainable”
stuff. And at about $95 with tax for a pair of those jeans, I could go to my local thrift store and buy, at $2 a pair, 47 pairs of jeans, all, almost new and some still with tags. My 10 year-old Gloria Vs are indistinguishable from the new ones because the style is timeless.
You could furnish a house with the furniture in this thrift store and no-one would know the difference, because the folks who supply this church-run thrift shop are Always running out and getting something new.
Seams to me, if saving the planet is your goal, don’t buy into fads. Use everything for as long as you possibly can and then jog on over to the thrift store, drop off the things you no-longer need (like extra sets of dishes) and pick up what you do need.
And don’t go buy the “colors of the season”, Go buy what you like.
Conversation pits, leisure suits, disco music. It was the drugs. Many, many good drugs.
Sorry, I lived through that era and the only drug around high school or that I heard of people using in my University was alcohol, and that was not a big deal because our major courses were A, B, Fail ( your out!), so there wasn’t a lot of play time. Our conversation pits were generally used for exam cramming.
Also there was the Draft if you dropped out, so college life was a pretty serious endeavor at my school. But what druggy could afford a house like the one pictured?
I kind of resent that everyone from the 60’s and 70’s are lumped into the same stereotype for young adults everywhere. Studio 54 was an anomaly, not the norm.
Depends on where you lived, went to school.
Cindy Montalbano says
I have to say that The Groovy fondue sure does sound awesome. I can’t tell you how hard I laughed at that comment by Gordon. I was a kid in the seventies and I think these are incredibly cool looking. You clean them just like everything else I would imagine with a vacuum and a dustbuster and a leaf blower LOL.
“Like how was this tripping hazard and dirt collecting area sold as the coolest design element ever?”
No idea. I never liked them.
Think large hot tub before hot tub craze without water. All inclusive for parties for those who can’t swim.
Now it’s exclusive since water has been added. Still a hazard and collects dirt.
Jean Morgan says
Ilona, I used to go with my grandmother to clean houses when I stayed with her during the summers. This one lady, Betty was her name, had a Ranch home with a step down living room with a fireplace. To my thirteen year old self, that was just the coolest thing EVER! Don’t ask me why, somethings just are 😀
Lol, I say random things all the time and my spouse has to remind me that but everyone can hear the conversation in my brain.
And our elementary school used to have a pit in the library! They redid them because maybe the kids (or adults) were tripping and falling into the pit but they don’t have a pit there anymore.
In the 80’s, there was sectional furniture where you could achieve some of the same results without it being in a pit. I liked the versatility they gave and found them comfortable.
At this time in my life, I am thinking more along the lines of walk-in showers and tubs being more practical and ideal… the idea of sunken makes me shudder!
CATHY M FREEZE says
“Okay those of you who were alive in the 70’s, what was up with conversation pits? Like how was this tripping hazard and dirt collecting area sold as the coolest design element ever?”
Based on my memories of it, it was ‘only the cool kids get to come in here’ but the rest of the party stands around above ’em, pretending not to watch the Seated Ones, envious. Plus, it was a convenient place for One Guru to sit and let the people approach for his words of wisdom. But really? It was where the hash pipe and/or herb was passed around.
I laughed a lot at “Gordon: Probably. Also, what was the prize for winning? Groovy fondue?”
Now, i want some groovy fondue.
I’m a professional technical writer. This happens to me too after long hours of writing. That part of your brain gets tired. Everyone who knows me is used to it.
Last week I lost the word for my pet. I texted a friend for help. I only had “small and fluffy. Under the bed.” She thought I was talking about dust bunnies. It was a cat. I’ve taken to calling my cat Dust Bunny.
Thanks for the giggles ☺️????
Mac Grani says
OMG how I hated that @#$@# shag carpet. The main floor of our new 1971 house was wall to wall 3″ forest green shag carpet. The kitchen was the only room that did not have carpet. My job every Saturday morning was to vacuum and rake this nightmare. My mother would then inspect my work before I could be released for the day. If I passed inspection I could escape for the day AFTER I raked her foot prints. Fortunately after two years in this house my father got transferred. The next house had “marbled high-low” carpet!
When my husband and I bought our first house it was an original 1950 basically untouched with only one change. It had one inch multi green shag carpet. My husband promised me that we would only have to live with it for a year or two. After one month I pulled up a corner and discovered hardwood flooring. I was thrilled! My husband said just to be patient as we didn’t know the condition of the hardwood. So I was patient, and more patient and at the end of two years and several flea bombs my patience ran out.
One Friday night my husband came home to role after role of green shag carpet neatly stacked on the sidewalk waiting for the annual pickup. It’s amazing what you can do with a box cutter, chisel, hammer and two little boys who loved the sound carpet makes when you rip it. No, I did not mark up the floor – it was in beautiful shape!
Our current house is nothing but hardwood and a few throw rugs. The only thing shaggy is the dog and sometimes my husband.
The Singing Glass Lady says
Omg, I soooo want a conversation pit!!! XD
We removed the conversation pit in our house two years ago as part of a remodel to fix several questionable 70s design choices (including lots of short walls and diagonal paneling) It was around the fireplace and consisted of wooden benches. The benches were not even slightly comfortable. There was nothing cozy about it, and no possibility of relaxing around the fireplace. I can’t imagine why it ever seemed like a good idea or why it survived as long as it did.
conversation pits were the unfortunate result of a furniture industry conspiracy to sell modular pit sofas.
I want conversation mountains instead of pits. Let the work with high ceilings.
Probably the same way as open kitchen cabinets/shelves.
And whoa, people used to converse!? Like, in person….. Omgaaad, what a concept. Mind blown
BTW, the picture above was in a house designed by Eero Saarinen and Alexander Girard for the Miller house in 1957. The first con.pit (sunken seating area) was designed by Bruce Goff for a home in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1927.
Think the conversation pit might be a question for all the house/building drafters out there.
Will ask my kids who work as drafters ????????????
I grew up in the 60-70’s and a friend of mine had a conversation pit. We would never use stairs, it was shoes off and step off into the pit. I think that the sunken tubs in the bathrooms were much more dangerous than the conversation pit.
I had forgotten about the sunken tubs. We had one in the master bath, but part of the tub was still above the floor, so it wasn’t too unsafe. Better lighting in a bathroom and going in there for a specific reason also made it safer than running around the corner and falling into the conversation pit.
Chelley Roberts says
Every time I ask for an explanation for things in the 70s (like the platform shoes and elephant bells) the answer I’ve been given was “We were all on drugs.”
Jennifer Jean McComb says
Was this a Frank Lloyd Wright thing – conversation puts?
Victoria L Sullivan says
No. Wright designed beautiful houses and died in 1959. These were later.
I never understood why the designers created conversation pits! They were only good for people who “entertained” not regular families. And, boy, watch out for those people who like to drink a few too many…broken limbs, noses, etc.
This was kind of what I was picturing in Innkeeper book 2(?) where Dinah agonized over the depth of the firepit and the color of the cushions because it had religious significance to the guests.
I have a question for IA. How do you both get inspired to write a book? I mean you have several different worlds (KD, HL, BH, The Edge, innkeeper and so on) going on. How do you decide which one is the next to write a book about? Do you miss your characters sometimes and think: It’s time to write the next book in this world?
Never heard them called that, but allow me to share me pain…
Imagine dark wood paneled walls with an overabundance of mirrors on them, burgundy deep shag carpeting, uncomfortable bead-fringe throw pillows, weird accent lighting that was seemingly everywhere yet only dimly lit the room creating pockets of light and creepy shadows, an excessively stocked liquor cabinet, and a general haze of smoke whether someone was actively smoking or not.
That is the nightmare my mind conjures when I think of the 70s. My aunt and uncle were so proud of their “lower den” and how their friends thought it was so stylish. As far as I’m concerned, it was horrible then, and the memory is horrible now. Of course, they also had a leather waterbed and avocado colored kitchen appliances in that house, so their life choices… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Ms. Kim says
Great for horsing around with young children.
drugs..psychedelic drugs..only explaination.
Lee Anne says
Currently rereading Sweep in Peace and this is something like I pictured the Otrokar fire pits in their rooms. Especially since Dina is worried about getting the depths just right.
But it’s harder to associate it with the fire pit give the contexts provided above.
Hello bdh! Yes I grew up in the seventies and I think conversation pits are cool beans. But I have no actual experience with one and I imagine it is impractical… FORM, NOT FUNCTION! I win on style points! The Jones are trying to keep up with me! Ha,ha,ha!
trish henry says
I think they were hot tubs for those afraid of water. ????
I remember seeing one or two in the 60s and 70s when my parents were house-shopping (they moved in 1965 and again in 1978, although I was already in college by that time and didn’t move with them). As kids were thought they were awesome, but my parents had more sense (or possibly less money than conversation pits required).
I saw a lot more fondue than I saw conversation pits, I gotta say. And quiche – can’t forget quiche. The epitome of sophistication! At least until it turned out real men didn’t eat it. Avocados were newly discovered, at least by East Coast suburbanites. Ginger was spoken of solely in the context of ale. We may have lost conversation pits, but we’ve still gained some excellent food.
Also – we’d never heard of salsa. Basically it was the culinary Dark Ages.
I take it you didn’t live in Texas? I don’t remember life without salsa.
Victoria L Sullivan says
The Beatles had one in their movie. If anybody is old enough to remember it. Anybody old enough to remember the Beatles?
Oh, yes, plus I remember seeing them on Ed Sullivan.
My aunt had a sunken living room, you step down two steps. It definitely doesn’t look like the one pictured. I don’t think the stairs would get used most times going in, I’d just step down onto the couch lol. Probably the same for getting out from it.
Whoops, I said had, should be has, she still lives in the house.
Kate Reid says
Best place ever for the kids to play Lego – a quick sweep of the surrounds and no more painful plastic hazards for parental feet!
Barbara Kay Swanson says
My personal theory on conversation pits, perhaps, maybe, based on some personal experiences:
Pot. Grass. Marijuana. Smoke enough and laying in a depressed pit full of soft carpet, pillows and couches, looks like nirvana.
Big Mike says
Okay those of you who were alive in the 70’s, what was up with conversation pits? Like how was this tripping hazard and dirt collecting area sold as the coolest design element ever?
In 1971 I was a young man through with wearing olive drab and finishing up a degree interrupted by a letter that began with the ominous word “Greetings.” I never lived anywhere that had a conversation pit. By the time I was married and finished with grad school and ready to buy a house, conversation pits had been replaced by hot tubs.
Yep, brain fried. Of course I have felt like that this whole pandemic, so I can commiserate. Thanks for the giggles!
I heard about conversation pits, but I never saw one except in magazines. From the looks of that room and piano, only the very wealthy had one. Always looked like a tripping and break your neck hazard to me, especially if you are prone to walking around in the dark, as I am.
I looked at that and my first thought was “toddler management”, followed by enforced Lego play zone when older! If any Legos made their way up I could just sweep them back down????
Of course my youngest is turning 18, so I could be remembering everything way worse than it was. But I don’t think so, because stepping on Legos is hell. ????
It was like having a bar lounge in your house (like exclusive box seats) where you could only mingle, talk, and “lounge” lazily
Beth Leffler says
Grandma Frida just became my favorite character while I was reading the comments section. All y’all young people could not have kept up with us partying in the conversation pit cool living room. That is all. 😉 Go ahead…keep blushing, young ones.
Weird sunken things in general: sunken floors, sunken tubs (what idiot came up with that), sunken atriums, sunken bars….
I was born in the seventies but I remember those things very well from homes I went to.
translated into my 4-year-old’s mind: the floor is lava game just became epic…
translated into my mind: need a housekeeper…
Patrice Smith says
Well, as I remember…no wait, I don’t remember much of the late 70s. Wait, yes, I think they were convenient for stoned/drunk guests because when they fell on their faces, the hosts could contain them in one place. And, when you couldn’t reach the tables, you could just reach behind and leave your glass and plate behind you on the floor!
Probably a result of meditation and enlightenment of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi becoming fashionable through groups like the Beatles. More pillows and informal lounging
The closest to one of these that I’ve ever read about in a book and wished I had was in a Heinlein book; the conversation pit had actual grass growing instead of carpet. 😀
My best friend had one – 1975. All the kids loved it because we were all cozy and smooshed together. 🙂 MY mom loved old houses – like Civil War old – Inman Park in Atlanta – and old, stiff furniture. Nobody but my best friend wanted to hang out at my house – and I bribed her with food and sneaking out my window at night to walk to the Ihop.
Thanks for that!
Me: Open the … you know.
Hubby: The what?
Me: It’s tall and has a handle…
Me: NO! You walk through…
Hubby: It’s called a door.
Me: It hurts.
Friend: What does?
Me: The bendy thing…
Me: You know…
Friend: I really don’t.
Me: Yes you do… it’s the genu of the leg.
Friend: You can say “genu of the leg” but you can’t remember the word “knee”?
Me: Let’s eat at that place…
Friend 1: …
Me: You know the one…
Friend 1: … (this friend knows me well enough to avoid guessing)
Me: You know… “Eating Crow”
Friend 1: Do you mean “Humble Pie”?
Me: That’s what I said
Friend 1: Why can’t you get that one right? How does “Eating Crow” equal “Humble Pie”? You always call that place the wrong thing, and it makes no sense!
Older Friend: In our generation, the terms were synonymous.
Friend 1: Really?
Older Friend: Yeah. Can’t believe you’ve never heard of eating crow (vs eating humble pie)
When I was in college, everyone wanted to borrow my notes. I had a 4.0 GPA, and my friends believed in their hearts (and minds, of course) that my notes were the reason. All they would need to march their way to grandeur during the notes of “Pomp and Circumstance” would be my notes…. I warned them. Then they would try to read my notes, a combination of English, Spanish, French, Greek letters, math symbols, and my own shorthand for certain words, and I would get an outraged “are your deliberately trying to make sure no one can read your notes???” No… I am a mathematician at heart. I don’t think in words, I think in abstracts. When I reach for words, I take whatever I can get on the fly… like genu of the leg.
This entry had me giggling quietly (my husband is trying to sleep). And yes, I was alive in the 70s,,, and no, I never understood the conversation pits (though we usually called them sunken living rooms as well). Toddlers were always falling into them and crying. Some people would erect little iron fences on one or two sides, where people might be racing around a corner… that’s much safer! I nearly broke the genu of my leg on one of those iron fences! WHAT is an iron fence doing in someone’s living room???!!!???
Blame TV and the Rat Pack who didn’t have to clean anything!
Amanda Carter says
Impractical but I do like that sunken floor look. However I have balance problems and would break something on those stairs
Ginka B says
The chat pit…only one gets out!