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The Ritz's Wisteria Cottage Gets New Look

  • The Wisteria cottage welcomes guests.
  • Ralph Vick and Shane Meder
  • Comforts can be found inside and outside the cottage.
  • A table on the veranda is all ready for breakfast by the lake.
  • The lake-inspired decor in the bedroom will appeal to anyone.

The Ritz's Wisteria Cottage Gets New Look

When The Ritz Carlton, Reynolds Lake Oconee executives decided to remodel their cottages with a more local, lakeside home ambience, it only made sense to use a local designer. So, the luxury resort’s General Manager Ralph Vick called in Shane Meder, principal designer of Black Sheep Interiors. 

The newly remodeled Wisteria Cottage was unveiled recently and already has served as a comfortable retreat for several visitors.

“With Shane’s connections in the community and a collaboration of efforts, the lodge perspective of the Wisteria Cottage now has a local, residential feel so it feels like home,” Vick said as he gave a tour of the cottage. “It’s relaxing and comfortable and is very popular with golfers, and for celebrations, family reunions and ladies’ retreats.”

Meder’s work and reputation is well known in the Lake Oconee area and beyond. His Atlanta-based firm served the Atlanta area for more than 20 years, where he won numerous awards and recognitions. He was the sole designer for Southern Living Magazine’s inaugural Idea House in 1992 and Atlanta Magazine’s Dream Home in 2008 and 2009. Black Sheep Interior’s work can also be found in homes and estates in Brussels, London, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, and Hilton Head Island.

More than 75 homes on Lake Oconee boast Meder’s signature designs; he was involved “from the ground up” with 45 of them, he said. Tourists at the upcoming Greene County Habitat for Humanity’s Lake Oconee Showcase of Homes tour on November 16 will have the opportunity to marvel at three houses reflecting Meder’s work. 

Meder and his partner, Don Schoenberger, and their two Yorkies moved from Atlanta’s Buckhead to White Plains and opened a Lake Oconee location for Black Sheep on Reynolds Walk Trail, just off of Linger Longer Road. Meder said he is the principal designer while Schoenberger handles the business aspect of Black Sheep. To help ensure perfection down to the smallest detail, the company also has three project managers and designers – Amanda Lundy, Katherine Limperis, and Karlla Dreser.

In addition to including each family’s story and passions, Meder’s own interest in art and history is reflected in his designs. He described the Wisteria Cottage as “modern, yet with nature reflected in the art.”

Showing photos from his portfolio of projects, Meder pointed out some aspects, such as drapes or table settings, that hinted at his South Carolinian heritage. “The South is transitioning, but we don’t want to erase history totally, it’s what we grew up with,” he noted. 

Because his work has been exclusively in the residential setting, Meder said he initially declined Vick’s request. Meder said he knew that most commercial hotels are required to have fire resistant materials, accessories and furniture that are anchored so they can’t be moved or stolen, and cookie-cutter designs; and he did not wish to work with such limitations.

“But then Ralph said the cottage needed to feel like a lakeside home with a local feel, so it had to be different and not commercial. So, I accepted and I’m glad I did,” he added.

Once he embraced the idea, his passion kicked in and his worries ended.

“I like the ‘life on the porch’ experience you get when staying for the weekend here (instead of) somebody rolling in a tray from room service,” he said of the cottage. “We travel a lot, so I knew what I would want to see if I stayed at that cottage.”

The cottage features two bedrooms and two-and-half bathrooms separated by living and dining areas. Once dark wood, the walls and ceilings were all painted a light neutral tone, while the floors and beams in the vaulted ceilings retain the natural wood to make the rooms “fresh and alive,” Vick pointed out.

One bedroom features a king bed, but the other has two queen beds, which Meder said was a new challenge for him, but he was pleased with the outcome.

“The Irish linens design is for men and women, so it’s a reflection for anybody, any age,” he noted.

The living areas offer all the casual comforts of home with plenty of relaxing seating options and tables on which to rest cell phones and gadgets, drinks or books, as well as fireplace with basket of cozy blankets, adjustable lighting, windows with great views of the lake or golf course, smart TVs, iPod dock, games, etc. The décor is inspired by nature while at the same time being clean-cut modern. The variety of materials and patterns creates an artistic palette for the eye, yet blends smoothly to create an uncluttered, seamless setting.

Breakfast, or any meal, can be enjoyed outside in the shade on the stone veranda while taking in views of the lake. The wicker furniture offers comfort in style, and every detail, down to the dishes and table linens, was carefully chosen by Meder to continue the casual, upscale comfort.

“It’s just like what I’d enjoy if I were staying here,” Meder noted. “I love living in this community and want visitors to have the same experience.”

-- Article by Lynn Hobbs, published in the Sept. 20, 2019 issue of Lake Oconee News