Some of you may find the sunken living room outdated, but trends say otherwise.

Step down living room remodeling is more popular than ever, particularly in open-concept homes where people are looking for creative ideas to divide space and create a conversation pit.

In fact, the sunken concept can help you design an amazing living room, keeping in mind that sofa pits look spacious and organized even when open-concept is out of the question.

Sunken living room remodeling makes your home look cozy, cute, and modern.

The most usual sunken room scenario is found in split-level houses, where entrances are situated in the stairwells, and rooms are as much as few steps away from each other.

Most of the time, these homes own basement-like facilities that can easily be turned into a step-down living room, or secure some extra space when needed.

Sunken room design ideas

Image source: Anthea Turner Home

Like fashion, architecture has trends which change all of the time. It is rare for a particular style to resist the touch of time, but that’s exactly the highlight of sunken living rooms.

Sunken living rooms haven’t changed a tiny bit from how we remember seeing them, and conversation pits are becoming more and more popular with open-concept homeowners.

As we mentioned before, a sunken room has the incredible power of making living rooms look spacious and cozy, and we know well that these two things rarely go together.

The golden era of sunken room designs were the sixties and seventies of the previous century when the sunken floor was mostly adopted by nightclub and restaurant owners.

At the time, many Hollywood producers and other celebrities adopted the living room pit for their own homes, believing it to be the most elegant solution they could find.

According to some reports, however, the conversation room’s origins can be traced back to the 1920s, when a lot of famous hotels and rich people’s residences used them for private and official meetings.

The pros of sunken living rooms

Image source: Hull Historical

If we could choose, we’d all go for a large living room that looks elegant and fresh, but wouldn’t it be a cumbersome task to create visual divisions without a wall?  A step down between rooms creates a natural space divider while still creating a fresh appearance.

For the good or the bad, the recessed living room trend has resurfaced, and there are more and more sunken living room designs emerging.

You can see examples of the sunken in the living room in the most surprising place, see them on leading TV shows (Mad Men, for instance), or read about sunken living room solutions in the Dwell. It is happening!

Let’s try and guess why sunken living rooms are becoming so popular, and check whether they are a suitable, long-lasting option for you too:

A sunken room eliminates the need to define areas with walls

Image source: Diehl Interiors

Who said a large and open living room is not attractive? Space may be off the table, but comfortable seating is not – with a drop down living room, you won’t have to build walls or raise the ceiling pane, and you will still get to spend time in an open room.

How does that work? Designers like to call sunken living rooms conversation pits, and that’s exactly because they make seating so comfortable and cozy.

With a living room positioned a bit lower than the kitchen or the dining room, it will inevitably feel more inviting and more open.

It means you’re centimeters away from a large, yet intimate living room that doesn’t need walls to define it.

A sunken room works well indoors and outdoors

Image source: Michael Kelley Photography

The sunken room concept looks just as good outside as it does inside, as you can create an outdoor conversation pit to strengthen the effects of your architectural solution and give yourself a little natural retreat when coming home from work.

Finally, the larger the better!

Image source: Lencioni Construction

Sunken living rooms look open and spacious, and that’s exactly what gives them the inviting flair.  The modern sunken living room offers a great space to spend the evening.  From the circular living room to the couch built into floor idea, there is a range of ideas for your step down room.

The cons of sunken living rooms

In homes with sunken living rooms, you must think of scale. If you’re recessing a small place, the effect won’t be inviting but claustrophobic due to limited space.  Raising a sunken floor can be costly, so it is important to ensure your room will be spacious.

If you want the pleasant, cozy seating a sunken family room can provide, you must make the most of your space, which is already large enough.

Secondly, you must be careful with your furniture choices. With a sunken living room whose potential has already been maximized, there aren’t too many furniture experiments that can change how it looks.  Plan your furniture for your sunken lounge according to scale for best results.

Finally, if you’re starting from scratch, a sunken living room may cost a small fortune to build.

Learning from the best: Brilliant sunken living room ideas you should consider

Image source: Rockwood Custom Homes

Sunken rooms are what we’d describe as ‘retro chic’ nowadays, but there used to be much more about them in the past.  Sunken living room 70’s ideas were fresh and original.

Some of those practices didn’t really emerge, but they are a smart place to look at for your original sunken living rooms.

The very concept of a sunken living room is rare for average homeowners, but it may be turn out to be the trick you were looking for to distinguish your home. These are the ideas you should consider:

Traditional. This will be easy in an open-concept home: With an open floor, you already have the seamless and clean setting to connect your living room with the kitchen. The sunken living room design is both beautiful and functional.

Image source: 2id Interiors

Grand. Grand is the most typical, elegant sunken home solution in an open-concept environment, and definitely deserves a try.

Contemporary. If you’re worried about sunken living rooms being an outdated concept, you should consider furnishing them with contemporary pieces, darker floors, or varnished, wooden ceilings.

Simple. Who said there should be something extravagant or gaudy about your sunken room? The truth is, you can make your seating area pretty attractive with the furniture you already have.

Image source: Concept Photography

Note that the simpler your sunken pit is, the better it will match a hardwood floor or a couple of huge windows.

Retro chic, but functional. This works the best in commercial and professional environments, which nevertheless lack a relaxing dimension. You can consider this sunken floor design to entertain partners, coworkers, or friends.

Image source: Skale Building Design

Stately sunken rooms are in fact country-style samples, that offer a lot of space to move furniture around, repurpose, or snuggle into their warmth. If you have a dog or are planning to buy one, this sunk in the living room will have you covered.

Perpendicular. Perpendicular stands for elegant, yet warm living rooms banked on horizontal and vertical lines, and working around stricter geometric shapes. They look the best with small modern twists (flaming hearth, for instance).

Cozy pits. You don’t really have to ‘sunk’ your entire living room – Instead, you can incorporate the sunken part as a cozy conversation pit, and have nice conversations in it.

Image source: Luke Gibson Photography

Let’s be clear on something: The best sunken living room you could possibly have is one with a view, so make sure the pit faces your solitary, beautiful tree, and witnesses thereof all change of seasons. Creative people will love this idea!

Lounges. If you have a bold taste and like imposing designs, you should consider a lounge pad to complement your calm living room.

Image source: Sierra Sustainable Builders

As we mentioned in few occasions, there is no need to go over the fence to create something impressive. You can use your old furniture, and still get that cool family room you’re craving.

Homeowners lucky to have enough vertical space to play with can use these suspended fixtures to make a room fun and exciting. Vaulted areas will also look amazing in guest rooms.  You could use a living room railing to finish off your space.

Image source: Moore Design Group

Functional only. What this means is that you have to make your sunken den as straightforward and relaxed as possible and that a relaxing nap on the couch without worrying over its looks.

Modern eclectic. Sunken living rooms with lounge design will work amazing with ante-focus focal elements, as for instance a fireplace, or a simple smokestack that attracts views upwards and out.  Look for a great conversation pit sofa to enhance the effect.

Bold. This is for people with brave design solutions, who wish to see their living room transforming into a veritable oasis.  Conversation pit furniture could be brightly colored or have an interesting shape.

Pragmatic and brooding. With a pensive homebody, the best you can do is to preserve the narrow walkways and retain focus on the glass walls.

Image source: David Marquardt Architectural Photography

Beachy. If you wish so, you can always revoke summer memories with a fresh, beachy living room. The same as with other types of sunken living rooms, it will all depend on your imagination.

Rustic. This is another handy suggestion for country-home owners, who’d love to see how a sunken living room looks with their sprawling outdoors and majestic windows.

What is really typical for rustic living rooms is the feeling of comfort, and the numerous seating spots they offer.  You could look on Pinterest to explore a range of rustic sunken living room ideas.

Ending thoughts on sunken living rooms

Image source: Charles Todd Helton, Architect

It is exactly in the living room where you will be spending most of your time, either chatting with family and guests or watching your favorite TV show.

Make sure the conversation room is comfortable to you and everyone who’s visiting your home, and beautiful enough to make the house unique and memorable.

When you start making sunken living room plans you should know the advantages and disadvantages of this kind of space.  Raising a sunken living room is expensive so careful planning initially is key.

It is a good thing because you could define the space and place the sofas, televisions and the fireplace at another level. If these aren’t well placed it could become your worst nightmare when all your guest will break their legs or arms trying to move around.

If you are the type who loves sinking into fluffy pillows on your couch and start dreaming, now you can do this better because you could be in a sunken living room so you can sleep deeper.

At the same time this conversation pit design requires a large space and can’t be built anywhere but this can become your place of reunion with your friends for chatting.

An important thing is that from the moment this starts being your lounge don’t forget to add a great coffee table. This will add a homely feel to your couch pit.

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