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Should we keep our newly found conversation pit in our basement or should we just cover it back up?
Vennne Plumbing, LLC
January 26, 2013 in Design Dilemma
1961 tri-level home
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PRO
Ironwood Builders
WOW! Archeology at home! Hope that's not an old Indian burial ground you've dug up! As for what to do....Not sure how you make that work with the rest of your room...or how you waterproof it so that moisture from the ground below doesn't stay in the basement. Or waterproof it and turn it into a spa....
January 26, 2013 at 11:52AM     
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onthefence
That's a VERY cool space. My first reaction is keep it just because it's nifty. However, would it get used? Would it impede traffic flow thru other parts of the room? Is there something better you could put there that would get a lot of use?

Regardless of practicality - that's a cool feature. Looks too like you're on an archeological dig!
January 26, 2013 at 11:53AM     
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onthefence
My first thought when I saw that was a freestanding gas fire in the center. I keep having this mental picture of the lounge in the old Peppermil Restaurant!
January 26, 2013 at 11:54AM     
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feeny
Ooh, I would SO keep that. It looks like it would be so much fun restored. But obviously, if it doesn't fit with your basement plans or style, then the retro fun of it is probably not enough of an argument to keep it.
January 26, 2013 at 11:56AM     
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christineleggett
Keep it. It's unique and could become the favorite place in your home! Carpet seats and sides using a thick pad underneath and soft, comfy carpet. Add throw pillows here and there. Build bookshelves against the two walls, matching the height of the nearby cabinet. The top of the bookshelves can hold plants and sculptures. Presto...you have a cozy reading nook or conversation pit!
January 26, 2013 at 11:56AM     
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PRO
Interiors International, Inc.
I love those it's so mid-century modern. I would use it. If you have a water problem though it doesn't look like it there is a paint on water proofing product that penetrates into the concrete. It makes it completely water proof and you will not have water coming into the space.
January 26, 2013 at 11:58AM     
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Interiors International, Inc.
Or it could be made into a spa. Just a thought.
January 26, 2013 at 11:59AM     
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kimdee24
Ha! That's awesome!
January 26, 2013 at 12:03PM     
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PRO
Vennne Plumbing, LLC
We don't even know where to begin with it if we were to restore it. I tried googling "restoring a conversation pit" but nothing came up. And not sure if saving it would do anything for the value of the home.
January 26, 2013 at 12:04PM     
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Jayme H.
My family would break their necks in that hole...Too small for a firepit unless u plan to barbeque your limbs and asphyxiate yourself as well. As far as a spa goes...I see a plumbing nightmare waiting to happen, that's just me...Not to be a downer or anything....it would be history in my house..
January 26, 2013 at 12:05PM     
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onthefence
Seems that the waterproofing it would be the biggest hurdle.

Obviously firepit would be unrealistic without a hideous amount of ventilation work. Still a fun thought though.

I think saving it might make the home more valuable to someone who loves that era of home. Probably depends on your area and the features of the rest of the house.
January 26, 2013 at 12:14PM     
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Donald
All I found in my basement was a dead rat, so if it was me, I'd keep it (the pit, not the rat). Mount a tv in the corner and custom cushions and you'll be all set!
January 26, 2013 at 12:22PM     
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lefty47
HI -- I 'm thinking this is not legal and how much trouble would you be in if you kept it ?
January 26, 2013 at 12:25PM     
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ryansmith111
I would keep it. Kids would play in it forever - endless creative ideas for forts, a Sarlacc pit, etc. (Ok, I'd be the one playing in it, but I'd let the kids have a turn :)

Just waterproof it and then cover with some padding, carpet and perhaps cushions to keep it safe.

For added flexibility you can have it both ways by building a removable cover. If you finish the top edge with a lip, you could build some wooden planks to fit, and then cover it up or expose it depending on the desired activity in the room. You would need some support in the center, which could be a a simple plywood box that could fold flat for storage. The planks could have a nice wood finish, or could be covered with carpet or painted.
January 26, 2013 at 12:30PM     
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urthcreature
yes, definitely not a fire pit or fire feature due to carbon monoxide etc. That does look fun, makes me think of the japanese tables in restaurants where the table sits so it's kind of level with the floor line, with seating and feet below like that, usually carpeted inside and with cushions. Railing of some kind around it would help prevent people falling in and breaking their necks. Some kids if they saw it (as a conversation pit) might try to jump in thinking it would be soft like a ball pit, not just padded concrete. Hope it's not affecting your foundation in any way. I wonder, were they planning on putting a hot tub there, or something? Almost looks like a trampoline pit except that would have to be quite a bit deeper/wider and very well padded all around I would think. Very curious!! Were hot water tanks supposed to go there or something?
January 26, 2013 at 1:16PM   
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urthcreature
or was a bathtub supposed to sit in it I guess?
January 26, 2013 at 1:18PM   
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Jayme H.
Why not just rent it out? Extra income and all.
January 26, 2013 at 1:39PM     
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Karen WeaverPeters Peters
Looks as though it is in the kitchen area, pad the seating area put a table in the middle and use it for a table area saves space of putting a kitchen table in the area. I would keep this if it was in my home I can think of several different uses for it.
January 26, 2013 at 1:40PM   
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PRO
studio | FORMA
What a great find, I would keep it and do something with it. The one thing I noticed is that is not that big. Its more like a spa or something like that
January 26, 2013 at 1:49PM     
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PRO
Vennne Plumbing, LLC
Anyone out there ever restored a conversation pit? We need help figuring out what to do. Thanks
January 26, 2013 at 4:30PM   
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mmilos
Looks like it would be pretty cramped with people's knees.
January 26, 2013 at 4:34PM     
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Jayme H.
Is that really what it is?
January 26, 2013 at 4:39PM   
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PRO
Vennne Plumbing, LLC
It's over 10ft wide at the top and the former owners called it a conversation pit. Its bigger than it looks in the pictures. There were remnants of red and orange shag carpet in it so yes I would think it was a conversation pit.
January 26, 2013 at 5:19PM   
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Jayme H.
I seriously thought it was a joke...no lie..no disrespect intended!
January 26, 2013 at 5:41PM   
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onthefence
It was a very 60s thing Jayme. I'll bet the original owners had fondue parties there! Sunken living rooms as well were seen a lot at that time. Also indoor atriums - generally close to the front entry.

I think it's pretty cool that this got left rather than filled in. I hope there's a way to make it work for your house and your family.
January 26, 2013 at 5:55PM     
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wildfan
I think it's really very cool and I would try to work with it. Do you have kids? Couldn't you see them hanging out there with their friends or curling up with a good book? Can you have some custom cushions made to fit?
January 26, 2013 at 7:28PM     
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Jayme H.
Very "Austin Powers"!
January 26, 2013 at 7:53PM   
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GEE Contracting and Development
Keep it what a lucky find. If you have kids or just guests they will love it!
January 26, 2013 at 7:56PM     
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zindor
I love it! Make sure it is sealed, then add lots of cushioning and pillows. Once you add modern colors and styling, it will be a cool echo of the past, but firmly set in the present. I hope you enjoy it.
January 26, 2013 at 8:01PM   
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fangprintz
Oh Wow! That is so great to find-I wish I had one.. I grew up with kids whose parents "den" had a hang out pit. Not sure if it was carpeted-but it was always filled with lots of pillows.
It's a relic for sure-but if it's not practical for you, I'd cover it-but not destroy it-the next house owners may really DIG it!
January 26, 2013 at 8:10PM   
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Laura Stermer
here is a link http://www.home-designing.com/2012/02/conversation-pits-sunken-sitting-areas
and a little history http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/conversation-pits-time-for-a-come-back-165234

I'm thinking that you start by figuring out the loose edging and remove. If its bricks, maybe you can reuse them, get a few new ones to fix missing sections. Drylock seal the whole thing once the cement is repaired. Stucco for a top coat. The pictures in the links above show a rim around the top entry, maybe just make a different floor choice for the perimeter that will fit the depth you need - maybe need a couple of layers of leveling thin set to bring up the sub floor and even it out, and a maybe use a meshed mosaic tile, so you can split a 12 " sheet into three sections and "turn" them around that new edge. While you are in the planning stage - maybe run electrical, so you can have a led strip light under the lip of the seat - lighting the floor or lighting the steps down.

Use this or a local upholstery shop to make the cushions. http://www.cushionsxpress.com/

good luck! I'm just an army spouse who has moved 12 times now, and we have made an offer on a short sale and waiting to here from the bank. a 1979 that hasn't been touched. can't wait to get our hands on it. :)
January 26, 2013 at 8:15PM     
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Darzy
Love it!
January 26, 2013 at 8:20PM   
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ajnz833
turn it into an Ikea ball pit and have a blast!!
January 26, 2013 at 8:24PM     
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flgrandma
Conversation pit
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


A conversation pit is an architectural feature that incorporates built-in seating into a depressed section of flooring within a larger room. This area often has a table in the center as well. The seats typically face each other in a centrally focused fashion, bringing the occupants closer together than free-standing tables and chairs normally would. In residential design this proximity facilitates comfortable human conversation, dinner parties, and table top games. Their disadvantages include accidental falls and uncomfortable interactions with those standing above in the main room
January 26, 2013 at 8:26PM     
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Darzy
I was thinking of a tulip type table in the center, then one of those gel fueled(ventless, clean) portable firepits. You can move the fireplace out if you want to play cards there too.

January 26, 2013 at 8:33PM     
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rawketgrl
Conversation pit indeed. Aside from the obvious fall hazard a conversation pit creates, it is not a very flexible use of your space. If you covered it you could do anything there: put some wonderful leather chairs and a nice table there for poker or game night. Or a sectional and a big screen, or it could be a space for storage and crafts, or an extra sleeping area for guests, or spot for Foosball table or a tread mill. With a solid 1 level floor you have options. With a carpeted hole in the ground your decorating options are usually limited to a hooka and pillows. Whatever you decide for the best use of your space, it will be a great story!
January 26, 2013 at 8:48PM     
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alwaysdesigning
With today's lifestyles I don't think it is the best use of floor space and totally inflexible. You would be stuck with it forever. I would opt for covering it and forgetting it. Good luck
January 26, 2013 at 9:32PM   
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Sheila Schmitz
What did you end up doing with your surprise conversation pit? :)
June 13, 2013 at 8:25PM   
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breeezyboy
Turn it into an indoor koi pond complete with a small waterfall in the corner. Seal it like it was a swimming pool, or use a rubber liner. Add rocks around the edges, water plants on the ledges, artificial lighting above. Have a jungle mural painted on the corner walls and mix in wall planters with real ivy to give the murals even more depth.
June 16, 2013 at 4:49AM     
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Blue
Funny how times change style and function. Imagine being in a room with another human being and being forced to look into their faces rather than at a giant electronic screen. We might even be tempted to speak to each other? What a novel idea....
Nah! Cover it up, put some leather chairs over them and hang a tv on the wall.
June 16, 2013 at 5:17AM     
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PRO
Schroeder Design Group, NCIDQ, Licensed
The only way I would keep it is if I were going to design the entire space in a mid century modern look,,,,,and,,,if there was a guarantee that you would not have seepage problems there.
June 16, 2013 at 5:20AM     
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037755
Clean it up and put some pillows and it would be a great sitting area. On the bottom you could cover it with cement. Good luck!
June 16, 2013 at 7:33AM   
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wandababy
Go to Flickr and type in conversation pit. There are some real nice ones there that can give you some great ideas in keeping it. It sure would make a conversation piece in your home. Good luck!
June 17, 2013 at 4:58AM   
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shiffty
In Europe when anything interesting like this is found under the floor area and cant be used. It is covered by reinforced glass and so you still able to see the piece and use the floor space too.
June 17, 2013 at 11:36PM     
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primuz
Have you tried to google sucken living rooms ?
June 18, 2013 at 12:51AM   
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PRO
LB Interiors
I was thinking of a fireplace with an actual venting through the ceiling. I tihink it's unique, only if you can make use of it. Dress it modern and you'll have a home run.
June 18, 2013 at 1:28AM   
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onecb1
You gotta keep it. Look at the stir you already caused with conversation with everyone here. It's very cool. :)
June 18, 2013 at 3:42AM     
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PRO
Miriam Leuthold
KEEP IT - KEEP IT ... if the rest of the space/area is mid-century modern as well!!! For simplicity, I suggest finishing it out like a pool - i.e. concrete, terrazzo, tile on the bottom, etc. - Then load it up with a nice thick cushion and fun, colorful pillows! Since it is in a corner ... have fun designing the entire corner! I would suggest http://www.cushionsource.com/ for your customer shaped cushions. They do a fabulous job on custom shapes and have all different thicknesses!
June 18, 2013 at 4:37AM     
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annabelle88
I agree with studio Forma. We finished a family room in our house years ago. We had a large conversation pit..it was carpeted in gray Berber , with lots of red pillows. No furniture . It was so much fun especially for children. I would embrace this feature. Have fun!
June 18, 2013 at 4:54AM     
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Dani Pollard
Keep!!
June 19, 2013 at 2:27AM   
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madi07
Keep it keep it keep it.
June 19, 2013 at 2:36AM   
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lara_jane
I'd love to know if you resolved this dilemma! I would've totally kept it (and it would mean fencing it off from my toddler for a couple of years), but I really dig the funky 1960s vibe. Go watch some episodes of Swingtown and be inspired! ;)
June 20, 2013 at 12:16AM     
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msrmg66
Put a table in the center, good lighting and you could have a great place for playing games and working on puzzles. Best of luck!
June 20, 2013 at 12:32AM   
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Janet Beaman
Can you post an update please!
April 2, 2014 at 10:42PM   
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Christine
I would get rid of it. It appears to be in poor shape and may not be worth the $$ to fix it up. Plus have a realtor friend assess if it adds anything to the value of the home. If not then demo it or fill it in.
April 2, 2014 at 10:58PM     
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PRO
Shuler Architecture
Are you sure there's not some kind of fall-out shelter below this?
April 3, 2014 at 12:26AM     
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rocketjcat
Old post
April 3, 2014 at 2:10AM     
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PRO
Marie Hebson's interiorsBYDESIGN Inc.
This seems to be quite small, and not much of a feature - but if I could I'd blow out all the walls and make it a true feature with hanging fireplace in the middle - groovy baby!
April 3, 2014 at 9:28PM   
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