See what happens when we decide to live life by the water. 

Southern Living Crane Island Scenic
See what happens when we decide to live life by the water.
| Credit: Crane Island

Southern Living is excited to announce its 2019 Idea House in Crane Island, Florida. Within Amelia Island is the secluded isle of Crane Island; it's located on Amelia's western edge and about 5 miles south of historic Fernandina Beach.

We called on a Southern dream team to bring our beach-house vision to life: decorator Heather Chadduck Hillegas, our own former Style Director, now of Heather Chadduck Interiors; architects Jim Strickland and Clay Rokicki of Historical Concepts, which has mastered the art of designing the "new old" Southern home; builders Matt Roberts, Chris Wood, and Matt Birdwell of Riverside Homes; and developers John Hillman, Jack Healan Jr., and Jack Healan III of Crane Island.

Within Crane Island's 185 acres of maritime forest preserve, the Idea House sits on the marshy banks of the Intracoastal Waterway. The white, Victorian-style beach house encourages indoor/outdoor living, with 1,400 square feet of porch space in the front and back. The home's distinct Southern design mixes Lowcountry style with historic Fernandina Beach architecture. We'll be creating a signature Southern Living Crane Island Lantern with Carolina Lanterns (which readers will be able to purchase!). An interior color palette influenced by the natural setting weaves throughout the house, creating a calming, cozy retreat for coastal getaways. Once the Idea House is completed, readers will be able to buy the house plan and build a Southern beach house of their own.

2019 Idea House Crane Island Rendering
pSee what happens when we decide to live life by the water. /p
| Credit: Muir Stewart

Muir Stewart

SL: What was your inspiration for designing this house?

Heather Chadduck Hillegas (decorator): "Living on a Southern coast has always been a dream of my husband's and mine. The Idea House is a reflection of our Southern roots, love of architecture, collections from travel, and an editing process that curated the best pieces of a well-lived, well-loved life."

Jim Strickland (architect): "The sheer pleasure of creating a home that embodies the spirit of Fernandina Beach (hopefully) and all those who helped create such a magical town."

Clay Rokicki (architect): "We drew our inspiration from the local historic homes, especially the decorative embellishments of the porches and railings. We also let the site inform the placement of rooms and the siting of the house. The lot is an interesting ‘flag' shape, which inherently lends itself to a front courtyard and views to the marsh from the rear. On the interiors, we have had a blast collaborating with Heather and following her lead on textures and ideas. She came to the table with an amazing image book that was a creative catalyst for us to sketch out the main spaces."

Jack Healan Jr. (developer): "Our inspiration is all around us with Amelia Island and our island town of Fernandina Beach. The architecture and character of the Idea House come from the downtown streets right here, and the style is Lowcountry with a bit of a Fernandina twist, which you see in the porch details. Visitors can expect to see those unique qualities on display here."

Chris Wood (builder): "When you have an outdoor view like this one, overlooking the water, you design the space to bring the outdoors inside. It's almost as if the scenery becomes your priceless artwork on the walls."

SL: What part of the Idea House are you most excited about?

Hillegas: "We're including an aggressive goal of around 93 ideas for readers in the Idea House. These are simple tricks with great decorating rewards, classic room themes, and architectural details."

Strickland: "I love Southern Living and anything they are associated with. I am most excited about the wonderful views of the river from every major room in the house; the spirit of the island, the lot, the water, and the trees; and deep porches facing the river."

Rokicki: "I am most excited about the team bringing this project to life. It has been a real pleasure collaborating with Heather Chadduck and the Riverside Homes team, plus John Hillman and Jack Healan at Crane Island. I've never encountered a more positive, can-do group committed to doing something great in a short amount of time. From a design perspective, I am most excited about how closely this home nestles into the marsh—the views from the porches, living room, and dining room will be stunning and hopefully connect the homeowners with the beauty of the natural environment."

Healan: "We couldn't be happier about being the host location for the 2019 Southern Living Idea House. What excites us the most is the team that has been assembled here to create and build a one-of-a-kind river home. It is our hope and belief that this home will inspire many more, and we welcome the visitors in the coming months to see the good work that is underway."

Wood: The laundry room! "It's a place the homeowners can take in a view of the water while quickly knocking out laundry. I can't imagine this is ever a homeowner's favorite room, but you can't deny that this space is pretty incredible, and the view will make even the toughest laundry pile more palatable."

The 2019 Idea House will debut in our August issue. The Idea House will be open for tours on Crane Island starting in June 2019 (Address: 50 Cord Grass Court, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034). Proceeds for ticket sales will go toward the Amelia Island Museum of History.

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We'd also like to give a special thanks to our 2019 Idea House sponsors.