Historic charm marries high-function in the cornice-topped windows of the 2019 Idea House.

James Hardie Idea House Exterior Windows
Credit: Laurey W. Glenn

The historic homes in the area surrounding the 2019 Southern Living Idea House set a high standard for charm. Architect and Senior Associate at Historical Concepts Clay Rokicki knew achieving architectural character that equaled that of the area's existing historic homes meant designing standout windows. The result—slightly oversize windows set off by turn-of-the-century details—became a keystone in the "southern folk vernacular" plans he drew.

His one update: Building the window frames and cornices with HardieTrim fiber cement products to cut down on maintenance without sacrificing the aesthetic. "Using a product like HardieTrim and Artisan siding, you get the look of wood, and the versatility of it, but know it's not going to rot," he says.

Here's how he approached the task:

Reference the Past

The profile of the home's windows aren't an innovation—and that's on purpose. Rokicki counted on the familiarity of the window's construction ("big windows with vertical proportions") to unite the home with the history of the area. The details were paramount: a cornice atop a double-hung window with a thick sill. "Traditionally, the sill [on a historic home] is an inch to an inch and a half," Rokicki says, a look they duplicated here.

James Hardie Idea House Window Details
Credit: Laurey W. Glenn

Frame It

Many of the homes in the nearby town of Fernandina Beach have a Victorian influence, and the cornice on these windows reflects that. Matt Birdwell, Director of Operations for the Custom Home Division at Riverside Custom Homes, the home's builder, says that while it looks relatively straightforward, each one was constructed in layers using Artisan trim and flashing along with Artisan Lap siding and trim to achieve the scale desired without the meticulous annual maintenance traditional wood requires.

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Add Color and Texture

Functional shutters are a can't miss opportunity to boost the scale, character, and color of a home's exteriors. Forget-me-not blue sweetens the all-white exterior of the Idea House, setting the master suite wing apart from the main body of the home. As a crowning touch, historically-accurate side-mount shutter dogs and hardware were used—in black to sharpen the lines of the home. (Note the same technique used in the slim black detail painted on the cornice.) Even though it's a relatively small detail, "the texture of the hardware adds a lot," Rokicki says.