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  • Natalie Austin

Sunken Living Rooms: A Modern-Day Nuisance

Updated: Sep 27, 2023

From the 1950s to 1970s, sunken living rooms began gaining popularity. By lowering the floor level, sunken living rooms provided the illusion of a taller ceiling and prevented furniture from obstructing your view across the recessed space. Unsurprisingly, they're most commonly found in one-story ranch homes with lower ceilings across the valley.

The Downsides of a Sunken Living Room

Nowadays, this once-beloved home feature has become not only a nuisance, but a proven hazard. They can also make a home more difficult to sell due to some of the cons, including:

  1. Decreased Accessibility: Homeowners or guests with weak vision, motor disabilities, limited mobility due to age or injury, and many others will find sunken living rooms difficult to navigate.

  2. Lack of Flexibility: Sunken living rooms clearly define and limit the adaptability of a space. While open floor plans are in style, the changing elevation often strictly defines how a space can be set up. Leveling a large, open space opens the floor plan up to more furniture styles, configurations and sizes.

  3. Fall Risk: Not only are these spaces less accessible, but they serve as a major fall risk and trip hazard. Railings and colored strips to highlight the edge aren't always as noticeable as a typical staircase and can be easily missed by guests or in low light.

  4. Outdated: As sunken living rooms were most commonly built between 1950-1970, this retro feature can easily date your home decor.

Sunken Living Rooms: Common in Arizona

In general, sunken livings rooms are an inconvenient feature in many homes across the Maricopa County, often in older neighborhoods throughout Mesa, Glendale, Paradise Valley, Scottsdale, and Phoenix. Due to the many cons above, it's no wonder many homeowners are searching for a permanent solution.

Fun Fact: According to, sunken living rooms originated with architect Bruce Goff, an architect born in Kansas in 1904. They became a major trend thanks to some other mid-century modern architects, including Eero Saarinen and Alexander Girard.

At Dusty Customs, we specialize in leveling sunken living rooms with the rest of your home, giving you a new, seamless space to enjoy safely. While filling a sunken living room isn't brain surgery, there are some important considerations to be aware of. Most often, we use concrete to provide a permanent, effective solution to your unleveled foundation woes.

The Process

The existing space will be stripped down to the original foundation, lined for support, filled with fiber reinforced concrete and steel dowels to prevent curling, and trowel finished by a journeyman concrete finisher. A pump is used to bring the concrete neatly into your home, avoiding the movement of wheelbarrows or other heavy equipment across your other flooring. Once complete, you'll be left with a perfectly level blank slate, at which point most clients choose to add new seamless flooring throughout.

If you are looking at a new home with a sunken living room, don't let it deter you from the perfect purchase! And if you have an existing sunken living room you'd like to remove, contact us today. We're happy to provide a free evaluation and quote.

Image credit: Redfin

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