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Porches, particularly as part of entryways, are critical elements of homes’ historic design and a part of California living. Northeast LA has many.

It’s a bit of a parlor game to ask people, “What do you call the area that is part of your home but is outside, usually where the front entryway door is located?” The answers can be veranda, stoop, terrace, portico, piazza, entrance courtyard, porte-chochere, patio, or just plain “porch,” as it is largely named in Northeast Los Angeles and the entire West Coast.

The different names we have for this place may originate from where we grew up, or it might have to do with the style of home in which we lived in, particularly when growing up. An entrance courtyard is architecturally different from a veranda, for example, although it comes close to being a patio (the latter of these is more often located in the back of the house compared to the front, except in Tudor Revival and Mission Revival homes).

Not every home ever built has a porch, and homes in multiunit buildings (apartments and condos) sometimes lack any outdoor access. But suffice it to say having that place to congregate, eat, relax and even sleep (on hot nights, a common practice before air conditioning was available) is considered a plus.

The condition and historic preservation of porches is considered a boost to a home’s value. Real estate in Glassell Park, Highland Park, and Eagle Rock would be diminished if the home lacked outdoor amenities, including back and front areas. The added value of the front porch is its curb appeal, which HGTV lists as among the top ten home improvements that will net greater value at resale. The iconic home decorating media enterprise suggests replacing rotted and failing porch posts and columns with fiberglass facsimiles, which historic preservationists would take issue with. Better to use real wood and address what are likely water or termite issues that would cause wood to rot in the first place.

On the topic of historical authenticity, it should be noted how California bungalows so common among NELA homes are essentially defined by their front porches. The style draws its name from the state of Bengal in India, where the roof of the main structure hangs over the front porch to provide welcome shade from the hot sun. In other words, no porch, no bungalow. Take a short tour of homes in Mt. Washington, Garvanza, Hermon and Pasadena to see how attractive the bungalows can be.

What has unfortunately happened over time, since the bungalows were built in Southern California in the early 20th century, was that some homeowners enclosed those front porches to increase the size of the home’s interior. This is deeply frowned upon by preservationists and new owners with a taste for both authenticity and elegance. They are restoring those front porches – and sometimes adding living space in basement, attic or back-of-house build-outs.

Balconies occupy a similar place in vintage residential architecture, although they are less common (except for in the Monterey Revival style, where they are a defining element). The rule of thumb for balconies is that if they were an original part of the structure they should stay there, with details such as balustrades and parapets also kept according to the original design.

An experienced Realtor in NELA will help buyers and sellers identify details that add or subtract value to a home. Tracy King Realtors (323-243-1234) understand this and are ready to help.

tracy 150x175With over 30 years experience in helping clients buy and sell homes in Northeast Los Angeles, Tracy King has a depth of real estate knowledge that makes her the go-to for both the first-time home buyer and the seasoned real estate investor. When she's not holding open houses or negotiating offers, Tracy enjoys wine tasting, cooking, or planning her next trip to Paris. If you are looking to buy or sell a home in Northeast Los Angeles, contact the Tracy King Team at 626.827.9795 or team@tracyking.com.