A Southern Interior Designer Swears By This Trick for Effortless Style

Living room with white sectional sofa and black, white and gray accessories.

Cortney Bishop

Interior designer Cortney Bishop has mastered modern Southern style. The Charleston-based interior designer, who has spent the last 15 years designing homes around South Carolina and beyond, knows better than most what makes a Southern home feel layered, personal, and welcoming but also modern and fresh.

To understand how to get a healthy dose of Southern charm in our own homes, we asked the designer to share her top three tips for achieving the look—and we got so much more. From focusing on your exterior to bringing the outside in and decorating with heirlooms, these are the Southern décor ideas the designer swears by for achieving the perfect interior.

Roll up your sleeves and start thrifting because these Southern décor ideas are easier to implement than you think. You'll love the layered welcoming vibes they'll give your home.

Pay Attention to Curb Appeal

porch decorated in a southern design style
Katie Charlotte for Chairish ; DESIGN: Cortney Bishop

"When guests walk up to our home, I want them to instantly feel that door-is-always-open vibe—and that starts with a welcoming front porch," explains Bishop. "Outside spaces are just as vital as interiors, considering how much time we spend outdoors all year long. Whether it be for casual hangtime or solo daydreaming, you have to be comfortable. I encourage our clients to make strong investments in quality, long-lasting outdoor furnishings. If folks feel welcomed even before you open the front door, just imagine how they'll feel inside."

And On That Note…

Entryway with bold tile

Cortney Bishop

Bring the outside in. Have you painted your front door a bright or bold hue? Bring this same color into your entryway. Does your front porch have a fun patterned tile? Extend this into your front hall. Bring in greenery and other accents like rattan and natural materials that will make the transition from outside to inside feel seamless.

Always Have Fresh Greenery

bold hallway with potted plant

Cortney Bishop

"Use fresh flowers, never faux," warns Bishop. "Southerners take pride in landscaping and gardens. I'm always a fan of bringing the outside in. Just like design trends, blooms change with the season, and I welcome a chance to rotate new arrangements in and out. Even if you don't have access to fresh flowers, tree branches, palms, and sprays from your yard instantly fill a room and add life."

And on That Note…

dark painted living room

Cortney Bishop

The color green will help give your interiors an indoor-outdoor feel, so use it liberally. Whether you decide to paint your kitchen cabinets in a moody moss tone, add the saturated color in smaller decorative accents or art around your space, or land on a rich emerald velvet sofa for your TV room, this fresh hue is a staple in Southern homes.

Mix the Old With the New

bar set up on an island

Cortney Bishop

"A lot of our clients are looking for something new, but new things don't always offer that patina and depth I crave in a room," adds Bishop. "I'm a sucker for family heirlooms, antique rugs, art, and vintage accessories. My home is stockpiled with all kinds of special finds. Good design doesn't happen overnight, so taking the time to furnish a space with authentic, charming treasures really does add to a room. Believe me: Intertwining storytelling pieces into your design makes for instant conversation and lasting impressions."

And on That Note…

Living room with white sectional sofa and black, white and gray accessories.

Cortney Bishop

Decorate with family heirlooms and antiques, but don't forget to fill your space with modern pieces as well, so your home doesn't end up feeling like a vintage store. Whether you choose to bring in a side table from a contemporary designer, introduce abstract art into your space, or anchor your room with a clean-lined sofa, the mix will make your space feel fresh yet welcoming.

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