Inside Interior Designer Cortney Bishop's Colorful, Bohemian Paradise

This story appears in the Spring 2015 issue of Eidé Magazine. Read it here, or click to read it in the issue below. 

Story by MEGHAN JACKSON | Photography by KATIE FIELDER 

I have a deep-rooted love affair with the house itself,” Cortney Bishop says of her historic Charleston, S.C., home. It’s a passionate way to speak about a house, but for Bishop, an interior designer, it was serendipity upon seeing it for the very first time 15 years ago. It started with an attraction to the city while visiting her family’s beach house in Kiawah Island (a barrier island near Charleston). She promptly moved there after college and though a job eventually drew her away, she long dreamed of moving back. Then, when she returned to town for a friend’s engagement party held at the house, she knew it was quite literally where she wanted to be. “I was on the porch at the party and I was like, ‘I am gonna live here one day,’” she remembers.

The party ended, but Bishop’s infatuation with the house didn’t, and three years later, when the owners finally put it on the market, it became hers. She and her husband uprooted from their Tennessee home and moved back to Charleston. “The house just completely took me. And that’s never happened to me before. I’d never felt that kind of immediate draw,” she explains. “I even have a picture of a woman on the front porch with this huge cotton, white ball gown,” Bishop says of her fantasy of the 1886 home. “It’s black and white, of course. And she’s sweeping the porch, and it’s just so romantic.”

Growing up with an interior designer mother, Bishop remembers the style her childhood home had as one motif, very authentic to the architecture. She also recalls using extreme caution not to touch anything or make a mess in their home. For her own family’s interior, she’s created the opposite. “I mix everything together and it’s less decorated and more collected. There’s more value to the things that you can look around your house and say, ‘I know where I got that.’ It’s very special to me.” Bishop has combined her bohemian mindset with her contemporary art collection to create a relaxed, colorful place for her children to grow up in, all naturally assimilating into the Southern atmosphere, located just two blocks from the beach. “We have a young family. Kids come in and play — I’ve never been concerned with things wearing out or getting spilled on,” she says. The house in its entirety was designed to host company, handle messes and ultimately be lived in. “The downstairs doors are always open. People come in the back door, they just drop their kids’ stuff off in the mudroom and they jump in the pool. It was really — for four or five years — all we did was have pool parties. And so that’s the vibe of the interior design.”

Bishop’s vision of a Charleston lifestyle from that first party has been captured in her own way. She’s created much more for her family than an aesthetically pleasing interior in the 12 years they’ve lived in their home; she’s created a feeling. With a fondness in her voice, she confirms, “And to this day, we still love it.” 

"My husband plays guitar, my son is taking electric guitar lessons now and my daughter is taking ukulele lessons. I love music and I actually worked in the music industry for a couple of years, but I don’t play. I’m terribly challenged. But I’ve got a good ear, so I know a good song! I just think music makes the world a better place and makes me happier everyday."

"My husband plays guitar, my son is taking electric guitar lessons now and my daughter is taking ukulele lessons. I love music and I actually worked in the music industry for a couple of years, but I don’t play. I’m terribly challenged. But I’ve got a good ear, so I know a good song! I just think music makes the world a better place and makes me happier everyday."

“I found those (side tables) many years ago, when kind of Organic Modernism was coming onto the scene. They are literally solid tree trunks that sat in water for hundreds of years and they’ve petrified into stone. They look like marble ... But that one is so gorgeous and I’ve had several of them outside as well because they can last outdoors. They’re called petrified wood stumps. I have about three in the house. They weigh literally probably 300 pounds.” 

“I found those (side tables) many years ago, when kind of Organic Modernism was coming onto the scene. They are literally solid tree trunks that sat in water for hundreds of years and they’ve petrified into stone. They look like marble ... But that one is so gorgeous and I’ve had several of them outside as well because they can last outdoors. They’re called petrified wood stumps. I have about three in the house. They weigh literally probably 300 pounds.” 

"[The library] is not necessarily color-coded ... I just like things to be in chunks. It’s almost like flowers, I just kind of think it makes a bigger impact if you put things together visually that are curated well.” 

"[The library] is not necessarily color-coded ... I just like things to be in chunks. It’s almost like flowers, I just kind of think it makes a bigger impact if you put things together visually that are curated well.” 

"I found that interesting record player at High Point, Market in North Carolina two years ago, and it was a prototype from a company in New York. But they were just showing it in one of the furniture showrooms, and I called [the owner] everyday and said, ‘Can I please buy that prototype because I know I can’t afford the real one?’ And it ended up working perfectly . It was just kind of their middle of the line, cause they go up to a gazillion-dollar models. So he let me buy it for my husbands 40th birthday.” 

"I found that interesting record player at High Point, Market in North Carolina two years ago, and it was a prototype from a company in New York. But they were just showing it in one of the furniture showrooms, and I called [the owner] everyday and said, ‘Can I please buy that prototype because I know I can’t afford the real one?’ And it ended up working perfectly . It was just kind of their middle of the line, cause they go up to a gazillion-dollar models. So he let me buy it for my husbands 40th birthday.” 

"That's the downstairs. It’s kind of a completely different vibe. It’s kind of craft and wooden driven. There’s a lot of warm woods and primary colors downstairs ... So that table and chairs is kind of like the kids’ art room. They have their Wii down there and they have that sitting area to play and watch TV." 

"That's the downstairs. It’s kind of a completely different vibe. It’s kind of craft and wooden driven. There’s a lot of warm woods and primary colors downstairs ... So that table and chairs is kind of like the kids’ art room. They have their Wii down there and they have that sitting area to play and watch TV." 

"The abstract piece is by a local Charleston artist, Brian Coleman. I just found him through The George Gallery, and I’ve been kind of obsessed with him the last three years ... I really think he’s gonna explode. In the meantime, he’s priced so well. All the names of his art are so meaningful. That one is ‘Nothing Is Forever.’ 

"The abstract piece is by a local Charleston artist, Brian Coleman. I just found him through The George Gallery, and I’ve been kind of obsessed with him the last three years ... I really think he’s gonna explode. In the meantime, he’s priced so well. All the names of his art are so meaningful. That one is ‘Nothing Is Forever.’