7 Features That Only Classic Southern Homes Have

Updated: Mar. 11, 2022

There's no denying the beauty of classic Southern homes, but what design elements bring the charm?

You don’t have to live south of the Mason-Dixon line to love classic Southern homes—yet you may have to be from the area to understand Southern architecture. Defined by history, charm and generations of heat survival, Southern-style houses are designed with unique features. While most people know about wrap-around porches or high ceilings, for example, it typically takes a Southerner to know terms such as “sleeping porch” and “hospitality door.”

Here are design terms specific to Southern homes.

Sleeping Porches

Also called a Florida room, a sleeping porch hearkens back to the days before air-conditioning, when a porch offered overnight relief from the summer heat. Essentially a three-season room, this space typically has walls and windows, but no insulation or heating.

Haint Blue Porch Ceilings

From Savannah, Georgia to Charleston, South Carolina, Southern porches often feature blue ceilings. Known as haint blue, this blue-green shade is more than charming. It gets its name from its legendary ability to ward off “haints,” or spirits of the dead. This color is used for bottle trees, too.

Here’s a closer look at the history behind blue porch ceilings.

Elevated Foundations

Coastal parts of the South often feature homes with elevated foundations, built on stilts to avoid potential flooding. Added bonus: On hot summer days, having a breeze beneath the first floor offers slight cooling.

Charleston Green

Found on trim, doors and shutters throughout Charleston, South Carolina, Charleston Green is a color that, according to legend, dates back to post-Civil War. When Northerners sent black paint to rebuild the city, color-loving locals added yellow and green to make it their own.

Joggling Boards

Speaking of Charleston Green, it’s a popular color choice for joggling boards, those Lowcountry rocking benches that are essentially long, bowed boards held between two wood stands. Find them on front porches of Southern homes—and learn Charleston natives love joggling boards.

Hospitality Doors

In Southern cities, especially Charleston, front porches may feature what’s known as a hospitality door—intended as a social cue to friends and neighbors. If the door was open, you knew you were welcome to drop by. Learn more about the charm of hospitality doors.

Eyebrow Houses

A distinguishing mark of Key West, Florida, eyebrow houses are 1800s-era homes where the gabled roof shades almost the entire second story of windows—lessening exposure to the sun’s heat.

Up next: Why houses in the South don’t have basements.

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