The conversation pit – a circular or U-shaped seating area, built into a submerged section of flooring in a larger room – was the crown jewel of 1960s interior design. These plush, sunken treasures were considered as fashionable companions to more formal dining areas and would act as setting for the second tier of entertaining: cozy, intimate, and the perfect place for an after-dinner drink or smoke.
They continued to enjoy popularity throughout the 70s and early 80s, at which point such casual (and at times risqué), entertaining areas began to take a backseat to the needs of the family room.
Conversation pits usually recessed a step or two below the level of the surrounding room, and allowed only one or two access points. Often these areas would be positioned to around a central fireplace, projector or hi-fi system.
This method was not always feasible if you lived in a rented home or apartment, as it would require substantial alterations to the physical structure of the room. To overcome this, you could recreate or mimic the the effect by building a platform either around the seating area, or by building the seating directly into a platform of its own.
Truthfully, one could just position modular seating in a U-shape to dedicate an area as a conversation pit. Success was more about the attitude projected by the seating area, than it was about the physical make-up of the space itself – it says fun, it says intimacy, it says sexy. It says close the curtains, pour youself a drink and put on another record, because the night is just getting started!