It was 2004 when interior designer Cortney Bishop and her husband, Baker, purchased their 4300-square-foot home in Southern Carolina's Sullivan's Island Historic District, just a short 20-minute drive from Charleston's city center. But with constantly changing needs—the birth of their children, Ryder (12) and Lucy (9), plus the addition of two mini Labradoodles, Jagger and Boogie—this lively historic house saw many iterations before becoming the warm and welcoming family home it has become today.
"My home will forever be a work in progress," says Bishop of the place she's lived for nearly 15 years. "Because it's an old, historic home, it seems there's always a project on the horizon, whether it be for pure purpose or passion." In a way, the designer treats her home as a testing lab of sorts, where she can freely experiment with paint, wallpaper, and found objects. Over the last 15 years, the century-old home has gone through a master bathroom and mudroom renovation and seen its fair share of new lighting, cabinetry, wallpaper, and paint upgrades.
Most importantly, the property, which oozes Southern charm, is laid-back and welcoming—with large back and front porches, a swimming pool, and tons of space to play. In the latest round of upgrades, Bishop called on the help of Chairish to help her give the home a layered feel. Step inside this quintessentially Southern home and pick up a few decorating ideas for yourself.
"Over the last few years, we've renovated the master bathroom and mudroom; added a fly fishing and hunting room for my husband; installed built-in cabinetry, lighting, and wallpaper; and painted the house inside and out," says Bishop of the many ongoing upgrades going in her historic home. "My family probably feels like something is always in progress."
The quintessentially Southern home has serious curb appeal, with a sunny and spacious wraparound porch. "It's easy, breezy, and casual," says the designer. It's made for hang time with family and buds. All are welcome. I want our home to be lighthearted, playful, fun, and relaxed—and continually layered."
Inside, the Southern charm continues with family heirlooms mixed with contemporary pieces and mementos. "My husband and I are true Southerners and both pretty nostalgic," explains Bishop. "Many of our most cherished pieces are family heirlooms that have a genuine story behind them. I also started a personal art collection when Ryder was born and invest in a really strong piece each year. Baker and I plan to pass it on to both kiddos someday."
Then, there are a ton of little mementos sprinkled throughout: "I call them my 'littles'—cherished, handmade finds, textiles, pottery, artwork. I couldn't not have them!"
In the living room, the designer wanted the space to feel casual, collected, soft, and playful—everything you would want from a living space frequented by children, adults, and dogs alike. "I've said it before: Buy what you like," she advises. "It's my personal design motto. Our living room has a strong foundation of classic furniture shapes, but I've tried to contrast that with modern art and unexpected collectibles."
Though the home has a strong nostalgic and historic streak, it also has modern accents. "I refer to my home's style as island bohemian, mostly because one design style is not overly represented—it's pretty carefree and no-fuss," explains Bishop. "And we're also only two blocks from the Atlantic—so it is a true island home." In other words, everything is in line with her goal for the space: for people to walk in and feel relaxed and at ease.
The dining room is the space that packs a punch. "The goal was less decorated, more collected," explains the designer. "The dining room is a passthrough to the kitchen and backyard, so we constantly have kids and neighbors running in and out of the space. A dining room that cannot get 'messed up' is a must for my family. Less formality, more reality!" Bishop painted the bookshelves in Farrow & Ball's Inchirya Blue to complement the bold yellow leather midcentury dining chairs.
The designer describes the master bedroom as old-world modern—a relaxing space blending past and present. "Our bedroom is hybrid of old and new, and each piece in the room adds purpose and character," Bishop says. "Some are family heirlooms, others antique finds, and there are a few new furnishings that I just had to have. Mixing it all up, along with small patterns and textural layers, helped create that feeling of comfort."
Most recently, the couple tackled the renovation of their master bathroom. "This is our most recent renovation project, and the result turned out to be one of my favorite rooms," says Bishop. "I needed a little getaway in our house, and you can pretty much find me in that Bain Ultra tub (with chromatherapy) most evenings. The water turns neon colors, which makes me so happy!"
Bishop's son's room is also packed with color, pattern, and a mix of old and new—in true Southern style. "My home is definitely more colorful than most of my clients'," she says. "I think that has a lot to do with how exposed I am to new products and artisans all the time. I totally understand that our clients are investing in a look, and they want it to be timeless and pulled together. But when it comes to my own home, I'm able to take more chances and play a little."
With her home serving as a testing lab of sorts, the designer was able to create a warm and welcoming home for her family while constantly pushing the boundaries of her design business.