Conversation pits: Time to discuss the return of the groovy home feature


It’s time to discuss.

We want to tell you that the conversation pit, an ultra-kitsch characteristic of Australian retro houses, has become cool again.

Many architecture and interior design enthusiasts would say that the conversation pit was never forgotten.

A handful of listings on the market nationwide have this sunken living room feature, and in properties built decades after it first came into vogue.

First appearing in the 1950s and taking hold in new construction in the 60s and 70s, the conversation pit is found in modern interpretations of homes currently for sale.

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The conversation pit at 74 Monash Road in Menai. (Domain)

The conversation pit has resurfaced, long after it was originally in vogue, in 2012. The star character of Mad Men, Don Draper, played by Jon Hamm, bought an apartment in Manhattan with a cool conversation pit and it took off.

And when the New York Times spots a trend, you know it’s really entrenched. The arbiter of good taste in real estate interiors published an article this month titled Sit. Let’s talk. The conversation pit is back.

A conversation pit is a built-in seating area, usually with plush padding, set in decompressed ground (and a place to drop a few Brandy Alexanders).

In the luxury listing at 74 Monash Road in Menai, Sydney, the pit adds to a separate living room and is a contemporary nod to the purist version.

At 18 Grandview Terrace in East Albury, New South Wales, architect David Boyle designed a second living room with integrated, contoured seating around the perimeter of the “pit”.

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Don Draper
Advertising genius Don Draper (Jon Hamm) knew what was hot in interior design.

“Ideal for a multitude of uses, the space can be used as a home theater or a games room. With a large sliding door giving access to the family room, the space can also be used as a further extension to the living room area. main life when catering to large gatherings,” the listing reads.

Although some up-to-the-minute conversation pits are angled towards a TV, a red velvet version at 141A Ryde Road, West Pymble hugs an open fireplace and is clad in tiles.

The conversation pit got its start in residential design after modernist architects Eero Saarinen and Alexander Girard designed one in their 1958 American project Miller House in Indiana.

According to New York Timesthe conversation pit became popular in design circles as it removed furniture clutter in increasingly functional homes.

Interior design architecture East Albury property for sale on real estate market
The Sunken Living Room, aka Conversation Pit, at 18 Grandview Terrace, East Albury. (Domain)
Interior design property for sale West Pymble
Fireside chats at 141A Ryde Road in West Pymble. (Domain)

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