Porches. They make houses look official, they give the mailman a place to drop off your latest Amazon/ASOS splurge, and they have a long history in American architecture. For centuries, porches have served as places for people to congregate, share stories, gossip, and convene.
This is especially true where I'm from — Down South — where the power of the porch is comparable to the power of the stiff drink. It's no wonder that the porch features prominently in Queen Bey's visual album, Lemonade. The porch is where she "finds her chill ... giving middle fingers to her tormentors, and belting out freedom hymns before the mothers of black boys slain by police," writes reporter Brentin Mock in CityLab.
But you don't need to take it to those extremes — and you don't even need to have a real porch. Below are five ways to porch, minus the actual porch.
1. Veranda (or Verandah)
This particular type of porch, especially prominent in Southern homes, takes the porch to a whole new level, often extending along the entire front and sometimes the sides of a home. Verandas give a distinctive elegance to a home, immediately distinguishing it from others. If you've seen the movies The Family Stone or Eve's Bayou, they both have verandas. Sometimes, if the house is extra fancy, there will be a swing chair.
Defined as a paved, uncovered space next to a house, there's something about patios that always feels vaguely French to me. The lack of covering means that you wouldn't want to be out on a patio in high heat, but this is even more reason to put out one of those cute tables with an umbrella. Add a glass of wine and voila! — the perfect little bistro you've always wanted.
A staple of northern brownstones and townhouses, stoops can be grand and sweeping as they are in Harlem, or short and utilitarian like they are in Baltimore and Philly. Stoops don't really have the grilling capability of a deck or patio, but they are practically made for catching up on the latest news from around your block or for people watching, which can be an all-day affair. (See 227's Pearl Shay.)
If a patio and a veranda had a baby, and then put that baby on the back of a house, it'd be a deck. An elevated structure, usually attached to a home's posterior, the deck still counts as a "porch" because it's a place where folks can get together. Decks are also great for grilling out and hosting barbecues, which, come on, are the only real reason anyone would build a deck, right? They also immediately call to mind professional handyman Bob Vila and his deck-building prowess.
Ah, sunrooms. This most indecisive of porches — is it inside or outside? — delivers the best of both worlds. You get the beauty of the outdoors (sunlight), without the uncomfortable hassle of Mother Nature (heat, mosquitos). Often filled with any manner of vibrantly colored inside/outside lawn furniture, it's no wonder this is grandma's favorite place to take in nature.
Your turn! How do you porch?