We take a lot of pride in our porches in The South. No one cares how many living rooms, dens, family rooms, etc. you have in your home because during spring, summer and fall all we care about is relaxing and dining in a beautiful outdoor space.
Courtyards and patios will work, but a true Southerner knows you need that little bit of porch covering overhead to keep a Spring breeze from being too chilly or the baking summer sun from being a bit too hot. We actually have our gas fire pit on our covered porch and will enjoy the outdoors on up until Thanksgiving with a fire going and a blanket to wrap up in.
Nothing better than that pre-dinner cocktail on the porch then bringing dinner out to dine alfresco. After the dishes are put away we will sit outside until we realize we might be talking just a little too loudly...it looks like the neighbors have all gone to bed.
Life is good, but even better lived on the porch.