Home Design: Veranda or a Porch, Which do you Want?

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We've all heard the term veranda in movies, and perhaps even envisioned ourselves on one sipping a mint julep or two. Although this word is most commonly heard in the South in relationship to home design or even on cruise ships, it may surprise you to know that if you are thinking of adding a porch, you may actually be thinking of adding a veranda.So what is the difference?

Both are attached to exterior of the home , covered with a roof structure and are open walled.  The differences from a home design perspective are in size, and how the space is to be used. The porch, as it is used in North America, is actually smaller in size and is intended to protect visitors from harsh elements while waiting at the front door. Porches on the rear of the house are used to removed boots or other outerwear that is not meant to be brought into the home; such as, raingear or coveralls.

The word veranda (or verandah) is thought to come from India. Other sources claim its origin is Persian, Hindu, Spanish or Portuguese.  No matter what the source, all agree that a veranda is larger and typically extend down the front or on the side of the home. Covered and supported by a column of some sort, and can include a railing or a low wall structure. Verandas are meant to be an outdoor living space; a space for friends and family to gather, and are outfitted with furniture for relaxing.

Chairs are used in larger spaces, and some homeowners include tables for al fresco dining, rugs, ceiling fans, and other indoor living comforts.  Look for verandas in your neighborhood that appeal to you and work well with your homes style. Or, use this opportunity to totally transform your homes façade and curb appeal.

 

Adding Charm to Your Veranda So you have decided to go for it and update your exterior home design with a veranda.  While construction is under way, have fun searching for and gathering your outdoor living "room" accessories.

Furniture

  • Rocking chairs. New or used (refurbished) chairs are a staple. Coordinate your look and add colorful outdoor cushions, which can be changed as the seasons do.
  • Wicker or Rattan. This relaxed and inviting furniture is great for outdoors as the open weave allows water to pass through; drying quickly when a sudden summer shower passes through.
  • Swing. No one can resist the urge to swing on porch on a lazy summer afternoon. They should fit comfortably within the space and the shade/sun exposure should be considered when deciding placement.
  • Glider. These retro pieces are making a comeback. While hard to come by in garage sales, reproductions can be found and ordered on line. Wood and modern day designs can be found at most home and garden centers.

Plants

  • Boston ferns instantly add Southern ambiance and charm.
  • Geraniums are easy to care for and add a pop of color.
  • Petunias can be found anywhere and comes in every color of the rainbow.
  • Tomatoes. If all day summer sun is an issue, try growing tomatoes. The new "upside down" containers are perfect for growing homegrown organic tomatoes.
  • Flower boxes. Adding flower boxes to railings brings in color and adds privacy.

Lighting

Although  you most likely have permanent, mounted fixtures near the doorway, you'll need to add additional lighting to accommodate the larger space.

  • Permanent lighting. Wall or overhead fixtures should be discussed with your contractor prior to construction so electric needs can be met.
  • Outdoor ceiling fans with light kits are a great way to add a cool breeze.
  • Column lights can be installed to "wash" down or up a column and are functional as well as stately.
  • Supplemental lighting includes lanterns, candles, string lights and even lamps.

Have fun with your family and friends in your new space; and if anyone says, "It's on the porch." remind them that, "Actually, it's on the veranda."