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Get Smarter: An Architectural Glossary For Speaking Good

Real estate listings aren't known for being technically complicated when it comes to architectural description. Unless the property in question is particularly design-noteworthy, the 411's gonna be fairly easy to understand for most any Johnny Homebuyer. But it never hurts to be educated about what you're seeing. We hate to call them out, but sometimes agents don't even know the correct term for a particular detail or style. And knowing your Tudor Revival from your Arts and Crafts bungalow might just trim down your search time by, oh, a lot. Here's a glossary of terms you'll commonly see in Atlanta real estate listings.

In alphabetic order, y'all! ...

Bay window - a window that projects from an exterior wall, commonly with three sides but also sometimes rounded

Baluster/balustrade - a baluster is a post that holds up a rail; a balustrade is a series of them

Board and batten - a common exterior wall treatment composed of boards connected by thin strips of wood (the batten)

Bungalow - one of intown Atlanta's most common housing types. They typically date from the 1920s and have the appearance of hugging the ground, with porches and such details as tapered columns and bracketed eaves

Casement window - a window that swings out

Coffered ceiling - a ceiling detail formed by intersecting beams that make a grid

Colonial Revival - another common Atlanta style, these homes mimic the look of 18th century homes with symmetrical facades and detailing centered around the doorway

Dentil molding - a style of molding characterized by repeating square blocks

Dormer - window that projects from a sloping roof

EIFS - stands for exterior insulating and finish system; a faux stucco look that's notorious for water problems when used close to the ground

Gable - the triangular part of a building wall formed by sloped eaves

MCM - mid-century modern; a 1960s retro look that's experiencing a revival thanks to "Mad Men"

Mediterranean and Spanish Revival - two closely related architectural styles characterized by stucco walls and tile roofs, popularized in the 1920s

Niche - a shallow recess in a wall sometimes used to display statuary

Porte-cochere - a roofed structure that extends from a building to protect people entering and leaving vehicles

SDL - simulated divided light; a type of window characterized by two pieces of glass sandwiching a grid

Shotgun - a Southern building style characterized by rooms lined up one after another, so that a shotgun could be fired from front to back

Soffit - the underside of a structural component, most often used in reference to roofs

Soft loft - a newer building that references historic lofts with brick accent walls and exposed ducts

Sun porch - an enclosed porch composed of walls of windows

Transom - the window above a doorway or another window

— By Curbed Atlanta contributor Jonathan Carnright