The Real Deal New York

Is the uber-retro “conversation pit” about to make an unlikely comeback?

March 25, 2017 05:00PM

A conversation pit

A conversation pit

You’ve seen them in Hollywood films of yesteryear. Maybe you’ve even been around long enough to remember them. But soon, we could all once again be tossing back cocktails in the “conversation pit.”

The sunken living room socializing area was all the rage in the first half of the 20th century. They hit peak faddishness in the 1950s. But by the ’60s, they were already passé, according to Curbed.

“At cocktail parties, late-staying guests tended to fall in. Those in the pit found themselves bombarded with bits of hors d’oeuvres from up above, looked out on a field of trouser cuffs, ankles and shoes. Ladies shied away from the edges, fearing up-skirt exposure. Bars or fencing of sorts had to be constructed to keep dogs and children from daily concussions,” Time wrote in their 1963 piece, “Fall of the Pit.”

But as people become disillusioned with rooms oriented around a big screen TV, the pit is making an unlikely comeback — in people’s fond memories more than their actual dens, to be sure. Architects are becoming nostalgic for the throwback amenity and shows like “Mad Men” have given them renewed glamour, according to Curbed.

“Imagine the parties and the lifestyle that the vintage conversation pits played host to,” Curbed’s Kyle Chayka writes. “Rather than sitting and watching Netflix, the enclosed pit meant that visitors watched each other. The people near and across from you were the entertainment, ringed around the fireplace or capacious table that often provided the pit’s center.”

Maybe it’s time to call your contractor. [Curbed]Christopher Cameron