Southern Living’s 2019 Idea House in Fernandina Beach

Tour Southern Living magazine’s 2019 Idea House. The Crane Island River House is located in Fernandina Beach. Tickets cost $22.

Historic Fernandina's Influence Reflected on Front Porch Railings & Brackets at Southern Living's 2019 IDEA HOUSE
Located in Fernandina Beach On Crane Island, 2019 Idea House
Amelia Island Real Estate & Development

Each year Southern Living magazine selects one location in America’s southeast for their annual “Idea House.” This year, the 2019 Southern Living Idea House has been built right here in Fernandina Beach, located in an emerging community on Crane Island.

Getting to Crane Island

Amelia Island is the doorway to Crane Island. In recent years, a road was built crossing the marsh to connect Amelia to Crane. The small river island has 3,500 feet frontage along the Amelia River and 4,000 feet along the marsh.

Crane Island River House

There’s much to admire at the 2019 Idea House, the creation of a team of pros at the top of their game, along with the dwelling’s riverfront setting. They successfully captured the character and charm of homes of yesteryear. Architectural influences came from the coastal South’s lowcountry and old Fernandina vernacular.

Southern Living's 2019 Idea House, Crane Island, Fernandina Beach, FL
Southern Living’s 2019 Idea House at Crane Island, Fernandina Beach, FL

The Southern Living Idea House represents a turning point in Crane Island’s development. Aside from the huge marketing exposure the Southern Living brand brings, there’s the backstory of Crane Island, a very long development saga spanning three decades.

To celebrate the completion and opening of the 2019 Idea House, a premiere party was held at Crane Island. Featured speakers described the effort and teamwork required to build a home of this caliber in a very tight time frame — only six months.

“A Timeless Home”

Sid Evans, editor-in-chief of Southern Living magazine (and Coastal Living), stepped up to the microphone at the premiere party to share objectives of the project. “We wanted to build a special house,” requiring the assembly of a special team of professionals. “We wanted to build a timeless home,” as though it had always been there. “We also wanted it to be respectful of Crane Island and respectful of Sarah Alice Broadbent. But the end goal was “to build a house that really inspires our readers. Not everybody can have a house like this, but everybody can dream — and this house is about a dream.”

Melding Indoors & Outdoors

The home’s design melds indoors with the natural beauty outside in this riverfront setting. “Porch people” will find wonderful outdoor living space at the 2019 Idea House. Below is the waterfront view from the back porch.

Besides watching the interesting boating activity passing by all day long, the western exposure has another aspect. It’s a front row seat to watch sunsets. Seeing the sun sink over the Amelia River is a favorite Fernandina pastime.

Home Tours Open Until December

Tours of Southern Living’s 2019 Idea House are open during summer and fall 2019 (ending on December 15th). Tickets cost $22, with a portion of proceeds to benefit the Amelia Island Museum of History. As of early August, nearly 4,000 have taken the tour.

UPDATE: Tours reopened January 15, 2020 and will continue through March 29, 2020.

Southern Living 2019 Idea House Rear Porch
Southern Living 2019 Idea House Rear Porch
Porch-Focused Community

Each home throughout the Crane Island will feature at least 20% of its footprint dedicated to porch space. There are two levels of open porches on both the front and back of the 2019 Idea House. Plus there’s a screened side porch with an outdoor fireplace.

Outdoor Fireplace Screened Porch Southern Living 2019 Idea House
Outdoor Fireplace On Screened Porch, Southern Living 2019 Idea House

It seems the perfect spot to sit by the fire during the seasonally cooler days in late fall and winter here near the Florida-Georgia border. Upstairs, overlooking the Intracoastal, is a sleeping porch with hanging beds.

Historic Fernandina Influence

The 2019 Idea House got some inspiration from vintage homes of Fernandina’s historic district. An example is the custom details of the home’s porch railings and overhead bracketing.

Southern Living's Crane Island River House, Amelia Island Living eMagazine
Southern Living’s Crane Island River House, Front Porches

The porch detailing was influenced by one of Fernandina’s downtown homes (circa 1885, pictured below). Anyone who’s wandered around Fernandina knows the downtown historic district has a wonderful array of inviting porches. 

Fernandina Downtown Historic Home Circa 1885 Porch Railings
Historic Architecture, Downtown Fernandina Home Circa 1885

Fernandina Beach is said to have one of the best concentrations of nineteenth century residential architecture in the state of Florida.

Haint Blue Porch Ceiling

“Haint blue” porch ceilings at the 2019 Idea House follow a long Southern tradition. Chosen was a very subtle paint shade called “Misty” by Sherwin-Williams. The home features a neutral palette of coastal whites and blue hues.

"Haint Blue" Porch Ceiling (Sherwin-Williams "Misty" 6232)
“Haint Blue” Porch Ceiling (Sherwin-Williams “Misty” 6232)
Front Porch Paint Colors Southern Living 2019 Idea House
Front Porch Paint Colors Southern Living 2019 Idea House
100+ Ideas

The concept of an “Idea House” is just that — to offer ideas that can be implemented into one’s own dwelling. There’s lots to like within the walls of the 2019 Idea House, and those who take the tour are likely to see something they find particularly appealing. Information is posted all around the house about paint colors, wallpaper, fixtures and materials, etc.. Corporate sponsors and products (over 100 contributing vendors), are also detailed in the “Style Guide,” a brochure given to those who take the tour.

Idea House Listed For Sale

The home is spacious at 4,540 square feet, with 1,400 SF of porch space. The residence includes 4 bedrooms plus a kid-friendly bunk bedroom, 5.5 baths, with a “carriage suite” above the 3-car garage for guests.

Wondering what a waterfront home like this might be worth in the Amelia Island real estate marketplace? The 2019 Idea House, located at 50 Cord Grass Court, Fernandina Beach, was listed for sale in July 2019 at $3,995,000 (fully furnished). The builder of Southern Living’s 2019 Idea House is Riverside Homes of Jacksonville. At this writing, five other residential properties priced at $3 million or more, are also listed for sale on Amelia Island, Florida.

Lots of Shiplap & Wallpaper

The popularity of shiplap (A.K.A. nickle board), is reflected with its abundant use throughout the 2019 Idea House. With wallpaper back in vogue, there’s oodles of it as well, even on some of the ceilings, as seen below.

2019 Idea House Crane Island Guest Room Wallpaper Ceiling Amelia Island Living Magazine
2019 Idea House, Guest Room Wallpapered Ceiling, Crane Island

The transition hallway between the guest suite over the garage and main living space is another nice feature. One walks through a pleasant passageway, with peaked ceiling and windows, to a private suite apart from the main household (and on the opposite side of the home from the master bedroom).

Southern Living 2019 Idea House Crane Island
Pleasant Passageway Between Guest Suite & Main Living Space
Alice Park Named After Legendary Islander

A park in the new community, adjacent to the 2019 Idea House, is named in honor of Crane Island’s notorious former homesteader. An independent woman of another era, Sarah Alice Broadbent lived a reclusive lifestyle on Crane Island. She was the lone islander for around 25 years after her father died back in 1924.

Alice Park At Crane Island Named After It's Legendary Resident Sarah Alice Broadbent
“Alice Park” At Crane Island Named After Legendary Resident

A fierce defender of her Crane Island property (called “Craney” back then), Sarah Alice Broadbent wasn’t shy about firing shots at those who dared step onto her island. But then in 1952, she seemingly vanished. A mystery still lingers about what exactly transpired. Learn more about theories of foul play versus accident, intrigue from the past.

Sarah Alice Broadbent, Legendary Islander of Fernandina Beach, a Crane Island mystery.
A Controversial Island

A story spanning at least three decades, developing Crane Island was controversial here in Fernandina Beach, and chock full of complexities, twists and turns. There were past efforts to preserve Crane Island in its wild state for posterity, and litigation. Much has been written in the past about progress and road blocks to its development, but previous obstacles are “water under the bridge.” As a local real estate development story, however, Crane Island will retain its place in time and be entwined with its legendary resident, Sarah Alice Broadbent.

Estimated Completion 2024

The Crane Island master-planned community will eventually have 113 single-family homes (Phase I is 47 lots), and offers 29 Intracoastal Waterway slips. An estimated completion of the community is around 2024.

Article continued, see page 2
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By W.B. Lawson

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