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.”