Recessed living areas known as sunken living rooms—and their cozier cousins, conversation pits—spread like wildfire during the 1960s, appearing in newly built houses across the nation. For nearly 20 years, they were the grooviest way to entertain guests or just kick back with the family. They abruptly fell out of fashion, with some homeowners even remodeling to remove them, but with so many homes built during that period featuring a sunken space, you’re still likely to see this fun and funky element on open house tours.
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Step-down living room design can be traced to a visionary architect named Bruce Goff, who incorporated the feature in a home he designed for one of his instructors in 1927. The idea didn’t catch on nationally, however, until it appeared on the set of The Dick Van Dyke