As amazing as it sounds now, people used to talk face to face. And to aid in this activity, some homes were equipped with an area designed just for shooting the breeze. These spaces, which typically featured a step down and built-in seating, were dubbed conversation pits.
These odes to the art of talking might seem dated, but they still show up in homes for sale. So we thought we'd sit down and chat about them.
"I actually love conversation pits," San Francisco-based designer Steven Justrich says. "The hole in the floor is definitely an obstacle to planning furniture, but I think its circular, enveloping nature is what we all want sometimes."
One of the earliest, and possibly most fabulous, pits ever designed can be found in the Miller House, now a museum. The Columbus, IN, masterpiece was built in 1957 by architect Eero Saarinen. You can ogle at the poppy interior design from Alexander Girard, including a conversation pit decorated with textiles he selected to change seasonally. Yes, it's very, very cool.
"With so much of his design, he was creating new ways for humans to relate to one another and their surroundings, and the conversation pit did just that," says granddaughter and artist Aleishall Girard Maxon of Girard Studio. "The Miller House is an excellent example of this and also one of the most exquisite pillow-scapes ever."
We thought the retro look was quite the conversation piece ourselves. We've found a range of homes on the market with sunken seating areas. So slip on your bell bottoms and get ready for some consciousness-raising sessions.
Deep thoughts: Built in 1979, this cabin-style home comes with all the decade's must-haves: hot tub, spoke-design beamed ceilings, skylights, views, and a two-story, 12-foot-wide stone fireplace amid a sunken conversation pit. If you're not relaxed in this home, you're doing it wrong.
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Deep thoughts: You would never guess that this traditional-style house holds a conversation pit inside. But there it is! Built in 1978, this five-bedroom home also has a family room, formal living and dining rooms, an office with built-ins, and two fireplaces -- one with step-down seating.
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Deep thoughts: We love this domed landmark in the San Francisco Bay Area. Called " The Flintstones" home for its distinctive exterior, it also has a delightful interior. Check out the tangerine-hued circular seating complete with matching shag carpet. That's just one of the home's many oddball features, including the "biologic kitchen," a game room, and a loft.
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Deep thoughts: The listing calls the home "one of a kind." Built in 1976, this Mediterranean-style residence is spacious at 6,400 square feet, offering plenty of room for an imposing black brick fire place and conversation pit. There's also a media room with wet bar, a formal living room, a game room, a "Florida room" with a fireplace/grill, stables, and a pool.
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Deep thoughts: Say "Aloha" to this sunken seating area in Hawaii. The soothing palette is offset by built-ins made from locally sourced Koa wood. Set in the great room, the space also includes a fireplace, dining area, and lanai with ocean views.
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Deep thoughts: You'll have plenty to say about this "one of a kind" property that was built in 1981. The conversation pit is a focal point, thanks to its coral fireplace. From the pit, the home flows out to an immense deck, a dining area, a wraparound granite bar, a pool and spa, and a spiral staircase.