My neighbor's groovy "conversation pit" perfectly preserved from 1974


45 Responses to “My neighbor's groovy "conversation pit" perfectly preserved from 1974”

  1. jahknow says:

    This just made me feel so much better about my late parents’ house which I’ve recently moved into (built 1964, my parents were original owners). More specifically, the sunken family room (& den) on the first floor, which with its brick fireplace and wood-paneled wall, is suddenly looking better. Thankfully it’s just hardwood flooring with a rug… not that my sinuses (or my design sensibility) could handle shag carpeting.

  2. GeekMan says:

    Looks cozy… very cozy…

  3. edgore says:

    Ah, the conversation pit. The house we bought in 1976 actually had one built-in; *as part of the standard floorplan*!. It was amazing. I note that your neighbor’s seems to lack a wet bar, which, to my childhood imagination, seemed a critical component of ours.

    • Telstar Logistics says:

      edgore, excellent point about the wet bar. I’m happy to report there is also a wet bar in this basement, just down the hall from the Conversation Pit, and right in front of the very schwanky pool table.

  4. blueelm says:

    That very clean, very white, carpet is original!? I’m impressed with that alone.

    The truly fabulous wall decor is just a bonus.

  5. GreenJello says:

    Did people really converse in these things, or is that code for something?

    • imag says:

      Don’t you talk a lot after doing a lot of blow?

      • irksome says:

        Oh you kids… blow was so ’8s. In the ’70s, we smoked a ton of pot and did too much acid.

        But where’s the shag carpet and the bong?

        • imag says:

          I hear you. I just couldn’t imagine having any kind of fun trapped in that room on acid with a bunch of other people.

          And white carpet just didn’t fit the pot vibe to me. It seems like the bong stains and burn marks would be a problem.

    • mdh says:

      what happens in the conversation pit stays in the conversation pit.

  6. Gondosan says:

    A kid in my neighbourhood had a basement lair that looked a lot like this, except very, very silver. His mother, I suspect, fancied herself a cutting-edge interior designer. At the top of the stairs there was a sign that read, in huge silver appliqué wall lettering, “Teen Scene,” with a gorgeous black-and-silver zig-zaggy arrow pointing down the steps.

    If you were a teen wanting to make the scene, you followed that arrow. Oh yes you did.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Looks like a lot of swinger’s parties were had in there…

  8. Anonymous says:

    That is awesome. It reminds me of the film The Ice Storm. Flashback to the ’70s when people cared about personal actualization, not monetization. Simpler times.

  9. chgoliz says:

    I would prefer that set-up over conventional overstuffed sofas and sectionals any day. Even the flower power wallpaper is OK by me.

    White shag carpeting, on the other hand, belongs only in a museum…behind glass.

  10. PapayaSF says:

    Yes, for heaven’s sake don’t destroy it now! It’s taken decades to go from fashionable to hideous and now back up to amusing historical ironic status.

    It reminds me of an article I saw in a home decorating magazine from around 1962. A couple had bought an old Victorian in the Haight-Ashbury, and decided to modernize the exterior. So they ripped off all the fussy old-fashioned decoration and put up nice, modern, streamlined aluminum siding. If they’d waited just a few years, they’d have known how foolish that idea was. No doubt it’s now the least attractive and valuable house on the block today.

    • scionofgrace says:

      I once saw a home improvement book from the fifties, detailing how to turn “outdated” paneled doors into “modern” smooth-faced doors. My parents and I laughed and laughed: they’d just spent thousands replacing all the smooth-faced doors in their house (built in 1958) with paneled ones.

      Dated or not, that “conversation pit” looks like a great place to hang out.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Post these photos on Pottery Barn Teen, sit back and wait for the orders to fly! Just redid my tweens room… would love the hanging basket chair and wallpaper.. it’s coming back!!!
    Seriously have some great memories from that Pit, from Mud Man, to … what was that board game we used to play?…
    Restore.. don’t redo!!! and that shag does look darn good for the use it got over the years…

  12. Anonymous says:

    Americanized Opium Den?

  13. bklynchris says:

    Not that she would be interested, but she could seriously rent that puppy out for teen parties.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Uhm…are there… you know… “security cameras” in each of these pictures? Seriously, what’s with the spooky-as-hell built in surveillance system in this “conversation room”?

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Naturally, you’d want to record the “conversations” so that you could watch them over and over and over.

  15. anniearonburg says:

    Just go the whole hog and paint those bricks white while the carpet is pulled out.

  16. Anonymous says:

    “shag” carpet… you got that right!

  17. LightningRose says:

    That is awesome in it’s awesomeness!

  18. Beezy says:

    Those aren’t cameras, they are those old canister lights that were so popular in the 1970s.

  19. Telstar Logistics says:

    Just found a good blog post about the history of conversation pits here:

  20. Anonymous says:

    Eligible for National Register of Historic Places status in 2024.

  21. Jack says:

    This is neat! But I love the fact kids were not allowed to play in what is essentially a playroom. Design fascism melded with baby boomer narcism!

  22. mgfarrelly says:

    Granted, the color scheme is a bit…off, but I love the idea behind these spaces.

    It’s organized around people talking to each other, sitting and stretching out at will. The focus is on conversation, not staring at a screen.

    Go into (too) many people’s homes and their living room is set up to worship a big screen. We just had a party and a number of guests asked where our TV was, confused that our living space was set up so people could chat, not watch.

    Long live the pit!

  23. webmonkees says:

    Wow. I briefly had custody of one of those hanging wicker chairs. Excellent for meditation, as long as your ceiling anchor is well secured.

  24. billstewart says:

    The house in New Jersey that I bought in the early 1980s came with a sort of rustic tiki bar in the basement and a picture of Bruce Springsteen painted on the wall. And the next spring a marijuana plant appeared next to the garage, where the previous owners’ kids used to smoke.

    Nowhere near as cool as that groovy wallpaper, though.

  25. Anonymous says:

    this is why i love america.


  26. Anonymous says:

    I never knew what it was called, but there was one in my childhood too. My grandmother was the personal assistant to a prima ballerina in Palm Beach. Everything in that room was stark white, even the accessories on the book cases above the conversation pit.

  27. Jacky says:

    I had one of these in my old basement in Prince George- except it was themed blue. It had a fantastic wet bar complete with large mirrors everywhere and a stage. We discovered it also had a working sound system, small disco ball, and (my favorite part) a Black Light.
    I didn’t know they were called ‘Conversation Pits’ though. More of a ‘Party Pit’ for my house. :D

  28. mellowknees says:

    my GOD, it is a thing of beauty! I love good interior design from the 1970s. The problem is that most of it merely existed in magazines and mansions. I wish this room was in MY house – I wouldn’t want to remodel it either. What a perfect place to hang out, play some PONG, or maybe have a key party.

    Okay, for realsies, I want it simply for playing video games. It looks like it would be a wicked cool home theater, too.

  29. Michael B says:

    I’m pretty sure I’ve seen some old “conversation” films that were filmed there. Looks like swinger heaven, not that I would know, of course.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Yeah, that was for sex.

  31. Anonymous says:

    gotta keep the shag, unless of course it’s replaced by new shag :) I’m mean seriously, what else could do that room justice???

  32. aHarshDM says:

    I love this. I must have this. Truly a treasure. Perfect for group sex, or a 16 hour DnD session, or both!

  33. Anonymous says:

    I don’t recall conversations in the “Conversation Pit”……but do recall vividly heated arguments with The Dan about the ERA Amendment and women’s rights……he LOVED these!!! Me? I just had another glass of wine!

  34. braininavat says:

    Wow! I really liked this kind of thing when I was a kid, can’t understand why it went out of style. Last summer I found a hanging basket chair exactly like the one in the picture – it now hangs in my rural retreat, where there is also a cable spool table…

  35. Jaan says:

    I’m dorky enough to imagine playing D&D down here. With a bong of course.

  36. Anonymous says:

    Just shows you:Only those of us who survived the 1970s realize just how horribly silly that entire decade really was.

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