Raise the Roof

PHOTOGRAPHY BY JARROD BROCK

Get a glimpse of the homes featured in this year’s Lake Oconee Showcase of Homes, a virtual 4-day event to raise funds for Greene County Habitat for Humanity

At any other time, the popular Lake Oconee Showcase of Homes opens the doors to some of the lake area’s most exquisite homes during an annual tour of homes each fall. This year, homeowners will still welcome the community into their homes, only they’ll be doing so virtually during a special 4-day broadcast event.

The format of the 2020 Lake Oconee Showcase of Homes was modified so that proceeds could continue to support Greene County Habitat for Humanity in its mission to provide safe, affordable housing for families in need while keeping the community’s health and safety in mind during the COVID-19 pandemic. Funds are raised each year through sponsorships, ticket sales, and an auction or raffle. This year will be no different.

The special “Raise the Roof” event begins Monday, September 14 and will be a 4-day virtual event featuring online broadcasts of personally and professionally guided tours of four private homes in Reynolds Lake Oconee along with the newly-redesigned Lake House at The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee.

The online campaign will include surprise appearances, an exciting auction, and a chance to help “Raise the Roof” for Greene County families in need of safe, affordable homes. Proceeds from the Showcase benefit Habitat with the goal of building a home for a deserving Greene County family in need.

Habitat homes are affordable to the family, they are not free; each family must meet specific requirements, including participating in mentoring programs, contributing 300 hours of sweat equity, and meeting affordability requirements, prior to purchasing their home.

To “attend” the 2020 Showcase on September 14-17, visit the Showcase website and sign up for emails to receive links to each home tour. You can also support Greene County Habitat by taking part in the event’s online auction. Details can be found at lakeoconeeshowcaseofhomes.org.

Get a glimpse of each home below, and discover casual sophistication, rustic refinement, a modern mix, farmhouse charm, and luxury revisited.


Casual Sophistication

Light wood tones and industrial textures come together to create a casual, yet sophisticated, aesthetic in the home of  Steve and Cindy Jones, built by New Leaf Custom Homes.

With stunning views of Lake Oconee from nearly every room, these bright and airy living spaces are punctuated with stark iron accents like the modern industrial staircase created by Stair South and subtle black brackets on the exposed beams. Fixtures and furnishings from Restoration Hardware also pull in the metal textures and balance the look of the light wood floors.

“Our floors are one of our favorite things about the house,” says Steve Jones. The light, wide-plank floors are part of Shaw Floors’ new hardwood collection, The Gallery. They are made from Castlewood Oak and stained in the color “Tapestry.”

The industrial aesthetic continues downstairs, at the terrace level, behind the bar and into the wine cellar. The cellar door, also crafted by Stair South, steals the show.

While Cindy was in charge of furnishing the home, Steve utilized his degree in architecture to scale the home’s living spaces to make them intimate for their family, while maximizing spaces to make them practical.

“We were looking for something in the right proportions,” he says. “So often you see homes that are ginormous, but I feel like this is a decent size without being gargantuan.”

Then, he says, it was all about the views.

The uninterrupted views of the lake are the hallmarks of this house. The Jones added more windows to the existing plan and made sure to situate their home offices to take advantage of the views.

Outside, the expansive deck offers plenty of outdoor living space. The screened porch off of the kitchen is enclosed with oversized screened windows that easily raise up on all sides to offer nice cross breezes in any season.

“It really is a four season room,” says Jones. “It’s a great space to sit and it feels great when all the windows are raised up and you’ve got something on the grill.”

The terrace level below has another outdoor kitchen area and is framed by colorful landscaping. The space was designed to showcase the elegant pool system that highlights the already unbelievable view of the lake.

Jones says his favorite spot on the whole property is sitting at the edge of the infinity pool, between dancing fire bowls, looking out over Lake Oconee. “Just look at these views,” he says. “We pinch ourselves every day.”


Rustic Refinement

When Bryan Combs of Artisan Built began working with the homeowners of this refined rustic home, they made it clear they want a lake house, not just a house on the lake. They wanted a true timber-framed home that would bring dramatic height and architectural detail to their main living spaces.

“So often times people want the look of a real timber frame without the hassle,” says Combs. “We do a lot of solid timbers in our designs, but they’re just decorative. Timber frames add some time and expense to a project, but in the end, it’s well worth it.”

Artisan Built sourced the timber frames from a company in Tennessee that they’d previously worked with to build Gaby’s at The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee. The structures are held together with Mortise & Tenon joints in lieu of mechanical fasteners.

“I’ve probably built 100 homes now and this is only the second home I’ve built, other than the work at the Ritz, where we used the timber frame as part of the structure,” says Combs.

But the timber frame is not the only dynamic architectural feature highlighted in this home. The floors are wide-plank oak floors in a walnut stain that blend effortlessly with the natural stone of the fireplace and its stone mantle. “The fireplaces in this home certainly make a statement,” says Combs.

In the foyer, above the ornamental iron door, is a curved barrel-ceiling. From there, the eye moves to the exposed beams above the family room, detailed with intricate finials. The room is appointed with elegant antique furnishings and art, including a turn-of-the-century English sideboard and a prized butler’s desk that fits perfectly in a nook beside the fireplace.

The formal dining room just off of the foyer is set with the couple’s wedding china. A more casual dining area is part of the expansive kitchen next door.

The bright and open kitchen has double islands underneath two dormers. In the original house plan, there was attic space above the kitchen, but the homeowners couldn’t stand wasting the dormers. They eliminated the attic and put the dormers to use pulling sunlight to fill the now 22-foot ceiling.

Shiplap was added to the ceiling for texture and interior designer, Jennifer Binion, opted for a herringbone pattern for the tile floor.

The keeping room, separated from the kitchen by a frame of solid timbers, is formal, yet comfortable and offers lovely views of the lake.

In the master bedroom, Binion used neutral colors for the big, bright, airy space and chose patterns and colors that complemented the owners’ antique watercolors that were used in the space.

In the downstairs bedroom that guests have dubbed the “Tommy Bahama room,” Binion used the owner’s antique rug for inspiration, pulling a soft orange and coral color from it to use in the color scheme.

The rest of the terrace level is unexpected and lovely. A formal library, complete with an original Chesterfield sofa from England, is tucked beside the downstairs kitchen with a marbled leather island. The living space holds more antique seating in front of the bar area and opens up to the pool with private views of the lake.


Modern Mix

The sleek, modern lines of the home of Susan and Roger Pitt, belies an eclectic mix of old-world antiques and fresh, updated pieces. Contemporary lamps shine next to 18th century chairs and modern figurative art hangs down the hall from Susan’s mother’s hummingbird prints.

You’d never know from the monochromatic exterior of the home, built by Jones & Jones Custom Premier Builders, that modern colors dance throughout the bright and open layout, appointed with sentimental pieces, old and new.

“We wanted something different than the woody, lodge look,” says Susan Pitt. “We really wanted a more modern house with clean lines and a no-fuss look.”

An elegant chest made with oyster wood sits in the foyer. It was the first piece Susan purchased from an antique store in Louisiana. While living in nearby Mobile, Alabama, when their three sons were young, Susan was able to make trips frequently to the antique stores – maybe too frequently, she jokes. 

“We’ve got antiques like my hall piece that have followed me everywhere we have moved, old clocks, and glass top tables that have just always found a place with us,” says Susan Pitt. “We’ve got a lot of different mixes, but they’ve just always fit together.”

The keeping room off the kitchen, where the Pitts spend much of their time, opens onto an inviting screened porch, offering a lovely view of the lake. Susan built the design of the keeping room around its coffee table, a piece she’s had since she was 30 years old. On the porch, she incorporated the family’s old breakfast table into the outdoor living space.

The Pitts said they wanted everything in the house to stay bright and open in typical lake house fashion. They selected a light wood tone for the beams in their living room which was reminiscent of their home in Tulsa, Oklahoma. They chose white kitchen cabinetry with light marbled countertops and soft fabrics for the windows. Downstairs, Susan painted several pieces of existing furniture for the bedrooms to lighten the heavy woods, and she kept the bunk room bright and airy with pops of green as a dramatic accent.

“With this house, I tried to be more sleek and less traditional,” says Susan. “I didn’t want a completely modern look, just an updated classical look.”

There is an eclectic mix of art throughout the home, from the collage downstairs in front of the pool table to the figurative pieces in the living and keeping rooms, but perhaps the most prized gallery is the one lining the back hallway leading to the garage. The Pitts have filled the walls with their three sons’ art throughout the decades – bright, colorful clowns and sweet brown bunnies. Rogers says that you can see each of their personalities through their childhood art.

“Their art is just like everything else in this house,” says Susan. “We find things we like and just put them together. If you love them, it works.”


Farmhouse Charm

Within the walls of the exquisite seven-bedroom home of Connie and Roger Blythe is an unexpected charm and comfort of an old-fashioned farmhouse. The home was designed and built specifically around the things the Blythes hold dear – family, entertaining, and comfort. 

With 33 immediate family members, the Blythes do a lot of entertaining and they wanted to create a comfortable environment for everyone to enjoy when they came to stay at the lake.

The Blythes worked with DreamBuilt to create practical spaces that fit their needs. The living room is open to the bright and airy kitchen and is accented by large weathered wood timbers to create a true farmhouse feel. The back wall of the room is made up of an expansive folding door system that opens completely onto the screened deck.

In keeping with the farmhouse details, the kitchen features white cabinetry, an apron sink, an oversized island, and sliding barn doors on the pantry. It’s an ideal place to show off Connie’s favorite collection of MacKenzie-Childs ceramics and home décor.

Interior designer Shane Meder of Black Sheep Interiors, used her collection as a launching point to surround the home in the same bright pops of color and florals. Connie says they developed the home’s major color schemes from a set of her favorite placemats.

“That’s the one thing I told him I wanted was a lot of color,” says Connie. Together, they selected fabric to complement the kitchen patterns. The dining room chairs have colorful “birds on a wire.” The window treatments above the sink are bold florals and the fabric colors in the living room were even plucked from the kitchen placemat palette.

Everything, including the custom-built dining room table, was designed with large-scale entertaining in mind.

“Connie loves to entertain and loves to cook and we had to reflect that in the way the spaces flowed together,” says Meder. She often prepares huge Sunday dinners for family and friends and recently threw a party for her parent’s 90th birthday. At her home in Fayetteville, she has a large “party barn” filled with tables and chandeliers that opens up for easy entertaining.

With such a large family, the Blythes created plenty of comfortable accommodations with two guest rooms above the garage, three on the terrace level and even an secondary master suite for their parents to enjoy when they visit.

The main master suite is an oasis of calming blues and grays. An oversized cabinet holds personal memorabilia from the Blythes’ travels around the world.

Just outside the master suite is Roger’s office with an elegant barreled ceiling and built-in bookcases.

Downstairs, his collection of Peter Lik photographs line a hallway off the great room and bar area. Enhanced by gallery lighting, the nature and landscape photographs give the impression of being illuminated from behind.

The terrace level also features a personal workout space, wine cellar, lavish theater room, and small “art gallery” just off the elevator hall. Even the pool table reflects the home’s farmhouse style.

The entertainment spaces extend outside to the pool area which includes plenty of gliders and rockers for seating and a nearby outdoor kitchen. Directly above on the screened deck is an identical outdoor kitchen where you can find the Blythes most nights, relaxing and enjoying the sunset over the water.


Luxury Revisited

PHOTOGRAPHY BY ROBIN BISH

The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee, a brand that is synonymous with luxury, recently unveiled a dramatic redesign of its signature Lake House. The exclusive three-story, four-bedroom cottage with its own private pool has been updated with a modern elegance that reflects the natural beauty of the cottage’s surroundings. 

The redesign, led by Shane Meder of Black Sheep Interiors, was driven by transforming the classic wood tones throughout the house into a lighter, more relaxing aesthetic. Meder chose a consistent white and richer graphite accent color to modernize the main living spaces and appointed each room with updated furnishings and modern accent pieces. 

“Simply put, it goes from a lodge house to a lake house,” says Ralph Vick, General Manager at The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee. “It is now light and airy and doesn’t feel like you’re in a log cabin anymore. It has kept some traditional Southern touches while adding a few contemporary twists on it as well. I’m thrilled with the update.”

Meder says he wanted a design that fit with the look of the surrounding community but didn’t erase the elegant feel of the cottage. 

“I didn’t want to wash away the great history of this house, it was just time for a new, fresh approach to its design,” says Meder.

He created relaxing spaces in the living room and adjoining dining room with new furnishings and polished accent pieces. The kitchen was completely updated with modern appliances and a stylish metal hood over the stove. The small prep island was replaced with a larger marble topped island with seating.

Meder opened up a bar area that was tucked away beside the kitchen by completely removing the dark wooden doors that closed it off from the entryway. It now serves as the perfect space for a personalized Cottage Concierge to curate the stay for guests at the cottage, arrange experiences, and assist with entertaining.

The more formal entryway was softened with a plush built-in banquette and sconce lighting.

“I wanted to make this area more welcoming as you walk in,” says Meder. He repurposed the space’s previous chest and pair of lamps in the stairwell area nearby.

The elegant stairwell received a drastic new look. The floral carpet was removed and the stairs’ dark wood was painted to match the main living area. The dark wooden spindles were replaced by StairSouth with an iron rail design of branches to evoke the outside environment. Meder pulled in shades of greens and blues simultaneously and created a focal point collage of botanical prints on the expansive wall of the stairwell.

“We put more than 30 prints closely together on the wall to give the feel of wallpaper without the formality,” says Meder.

The three bedrooms upstairs each convey a different feel through Meder’s use of color and texture.

“I like that the bedrooms are all distinctively different, but all fit together and work,” says Vick.

One room features black and white “Americana-inspired” prints of country barns with pops of red, white, and blue. “It looks like these images could be found anywhere in Greene County,” says Meder.

“This is probably my favorite bedroom because it’s just nostalgic and feels like the lake.”

Across the room, he used prints of old-fashioned fishing lures framed in a floating plexiglass overlay, to reflect the region even more. “I loved these nostalgic fishing lures but didn’t want to put them in typical wooden frames,” says Meder. “This is a contemporary way to feel like you’ve tied the old and new together.”

The bottom level “retreat area” with its great room and game spaces was also completely transformed. Meder lightened the painted concrete floors, added barn wood accent walls for texture, and created various intimate seating clusters around the bar area, shuffleboard table, pool table, and even along the back of the sofa in the great room.

“We had to think about the in-house dining experiences of the guests so we created plenty of seating downstairs,” says Meder.  

The great room opens out onto the private pool and spacious patio, where Meder once again added plenty of seating with wicker loungers, sofas, and chairs along with fire tables and oversized planters.

He knew this would be a space guests would enjoy and selected items to complement the breathtaking views of the lake that serve as a backdrop for the property – now a true lake house.

“I’m really proud of how it turned out,” says Meder. “To be able to have impacted a small piece of this lake’s history is surreal. For 15 years now, we’ve been driving by The Ritz and slowing down the boat because we heard so-and-so was staying at the lake house. The idea that I’d actually have a voice in what that house looks like and how those people entertain in it makes me feel really connected to this property. So now, when I’m an old man and we’re in the boat riding slowly past, I’ll say, ‘I wonder if they’re enjoying the kitchen, or the upstairs, or playing in the great room downstairs,’ and I’ll remember the honor I had of being the designer for this piece of the property’s new chapter.”

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