The Best Conversation Pits (For Napping, Partying, and Doing Shrooms)

If you spend a good chunk of time lurking on the internet for vintage interiors, you’re no stranger to the idea of conversation pits or sunken living rooms. The trend became super popular throughout the 60s and 70s, in the heyday of swanky cocktail parties (Don Draper’s midlife Manhattan apartment in Mad Men, anyone?), but according to The New York Times, started to fall out of popularity when “television sets became mainstream fixtures in American homes by the latter half of the 20th-century, and living rooms started being built around them, quickly making obsolete the conversation pit and its purpose.” We can at least thank the pandemic for one thing—after all that prolonged isolation, solo screen time, and a rise in social media accounts dedicated to styles of specific decades (like 80s cocaine decor, Japandi design, Memphis), one of the grooviest pieces of home design is having a comeback. No, you don't have to commit to lowering the floors—you can fake it with a big chunky sofa that can hold a big group of friends now that we can all safely breathe each other’s air again.

If you’re not a design-obsessed doom scroller like us, let’s take a little walk down conversation pit lane. While its original heyday was dominated by gorgeous built-ins and custom designs—à la the Eero Sarinen and Kevin Roche-designed Miller house in Columbus, Indiana—there are plenty of now-iconic pieces of furniture that embody that desire to gather. A couple of our favorites include Memphis’ boxing ring, designed by Masanori Umeda, Archizoom’s glorious Safari sofa, Roche Bobois’ modular Mah Jong sofa, Ubald Klug’s Terrazza sofa (that we would give our left pinky toe for), the vertebral DS 600 sofa, and the Pierre Paulin Dune sofa that Kim Kardashian owns, just to name a few. While you could shell out your entire life savings for this statement seating on 1stDibs, we did all the internet spelunking so you don’t have to. These are the best modern conversation pit sofas to max out your home’s cozy factor.

Big comfortable conversation pit sofas

Albany Park’s Kova Pit is at the very top of our list for good reason—we voted it one of the most comfortable couches on the market, plus it's also incredibly stylish and perfect for hosting a great big shroomy psychedelic movie night to honor its 1970s origins. Its modular design ensures that you can either all pile in, or spread out on its array of cushions and ottomans—plus, adding and subtracting sections is simple, and it comes in seven retro-inspired colorways.

The Remi modular sectional from West Elm is another giant, cuddle puddle-ready sofa that will make you not want to leave your adult pillow fort until spring. With memory foam cushions, dozens of fabric options, and a low profile, its versatile design means you can basically design the sunken living room of your dreams without hiring a contractor.

For a more budget-friendly version, we found this perfect velvet six-piece sectional on Wayfair that is designed by none other than your favorite Bachelor couple Sean and Catherine Lowe (remember them?). Regardless if you’re a member of #bachelornation, we’d bet good money on this sofa being able to stand up to a lot of wear and tear, considering they have four kids and know how much furniture can take a beating from kids, dogs, and lazy adults.

Inspired by the DS 600

You could snag a pretty sick reproduction of the iconic DS 600 for less than $10K, but why go for broke when Castlery makes such a banging bouclé option for a fraction of the price? Even better, its 100% polyester spill-resistant fabric can handle whatever you throw at it—from raucous parties to post dog-park grime.

Inspired by the Mah Jong sofa

I personally don’t know anyone who’s in the financial place to buy a $40,000 sofa (ideally me, someday?), but you can get the look of these iconic Roche Bobois modular floor pillows for a lot less. The Bales 6-piece sectional has very similar tufting, and can be configured in myriad ways. Add colorful throw pillows to get the classic mismatched look.

You can buy Mah Jong-style corduroy cushions on Etsy individually, which is great for smaller spaces or if you want to grow your collection gradually. Start with one or two and continue to mix-and match until you achieve the full set of your dreams.

For possibly the easiest DIY version of a Mah Jong sofa, grab a bunch of floor pillows from Urban Outfitters and stack them into the conversational-pit-style configuration of your choice. They are perfect if you already have a couch but need extra seating, or dont have the space for a massive piece of furniture—plus, they can be tucked away into a closet when you’re not having guests over.

Inspired by the Dune sofa

While it’s not an exact dupe, this vegan leather sectional has similar lines, and a very climbable shape that reminds us of the original modular seating system designed by Pierre Paulin in 1970.

Suitable for a Moroccan palace

Score a seriously cozy Turkish or Arabic floor pillow set that will transform your living room into a bright and cheery oasis for a fraction of the price. On sites like Etsy, these sets can be found for prices that are comparatively affordable relative to direct-to-consumer furniture sites; often for less than $2,000 per set. If your space is lacking in color, a traditional hand-made Kilim motif will turn your living room up to 11, or go with a classic rust-colored velvet for those 70s-vibes.

Now all that’s missing is some shag carpeting.

The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story. Want more reviews, recommendations, and red-hot deals?Sign up for our newsletter.


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