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Porch, Patio or Veranda: What's Yours Called?

There are more names for that outdoor thing that attaches to the side of your house than you can shake a stick at: balcony, deck, galilee, lanai, patio, piazza (<em>not</em> pizza), porch, portico, terrace, stoop and veranda, just to name a few – and in alphabetical order, no less. But, what is it, really? To the layperson, it is the place where you stand and drink your favorite beverage while you watch the sun rise … or set, or whatever. It really doesn’t matter what you call it, which makes it ever more curious why it doesn’t have one name that everybody knows. So, as a nod to our friends over at <a title="Porch.com" href="http://porch.com/" target="_blank">Porch.com</a> – and as an aside to the well-meaning grammar nerds who actually <em>debate</em> this kind of dreck – we’re going to sort it out for you by identifying the distinguishing characteristics of each. <strong>Balcony: </strong>A platform, often uncovered and occupied by Shakespearean damsels, situated above the ground floor. <strong>Deck: </strong>A platform made of wood, or primarily of wood, that is attached to a home. It’s woody. It is a thing of the trees, and so forth. <strong>Galilee: </strong>A porch specific to churches, usually of the English variety. It’s also a sea and a region of Israel but, you know … “church porch” has a certain ring to it. <strong>Lanai: </strong>Perhaps its most distinguishing feature is the luxurious Hawaiian lilt (pronounced <em>luh-ny</em>) that makes you think of all things paradisiacal, as in, “We can see the fire dancers <em>and</em> my yacht from the lanai.” <strong>Patio: </strong>An area that is usually paved or bricked. It is likely not raised. If it is oil-stained, it probably also serves as a parking pad. <strong>Piazza: </strong>It’s usually found in Italy, but if it is found stateside it’s defined as an open communal space – like a big patio, but ostensibly classier with shops or apartments surrounding it. <strong>Porch: </strong>In addition to being a cool <a title="Porch.com" href="http://porch.com/" target="_blank">website</a> and a boon to homeowners everywhere, this architectural feature's defining characteristic is that it's covered and more often situated at the entrance of a building – preferably with a swing. <strong>Portico: </strong>A covered porch that extends narrowly (although sometimes lengthily) from the entrance of a home, whereas a traditional porch may be thought to extend perpendicularly along a home’s frontage. <strong>Terrace: </strong>A deck or porch (but <em>not</em> a balcony, because of course not), most often uncovered, that perches above a land feature that slopes away from the structure to which it is attached. <strong>Stoop: </strong>A small, raised and often uncovered platform at the entrance of a home or apartment, . <strong>Veranda (<em>also</em> Verandah or Gallery): </strong>It’s the one on this list that is most like a porch, although a veranda may extend the full length of a home and even wrap around the sides, <em>a la</em> a “wraparound porch.” <a title="ATG Stores Home Page" href="http://www.atgstores.com/default.aspx" target="_blank">ATGStores.com</a> hopes you get to enjoy plenty of time on your [insert one from the list above] this spring and summer.
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