Interior designer Cortney Bishop has mastered modern Southern style. The Charleston-based interior designer, who has spent nearly two decades 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 style 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 decorating ideas the designer swears by for achieving the perfect interior.
Below, read on for six Southern-inspired décor tricks to make your space feel effortlessly stylish.
Pay Attention to Curb Appeal
"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 hang-time or solo daydreaming, you have to be comfortable." When it comes to styling your porch and front exterior, be sure to choose cohesive color schemes and inviting furniture. "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."
Bring the Outside In
Have you painted your front door a bold hue? Brightly-colored doors are a staple of Southern design, but they can also bring an added element of charm when the color is extended into the entryway. Bring the outside in by creating a cohesive color scheme that flows from the porch to the interior, and include greenery and other accents to make the transition feel seamless. If you have a tiled front porch or rattan furniture, carrying these accents past the front door can make your design flow effortlessly.
The Southern lifestyle is slow and steady, and often revolves around the outdoors—so adding a screen door to the front of your home and keeping the windows open can carry that fresh, breezy feeling throughout the space.
Always Have Fresh Greenery
"Use fresh flowers, never faux," says Bishop. "Southerners take pride in landscaping and gardens. I'm always a fan of bringing the outside in." While it might be tempting to opt for those faux varieties that stay fresh year-round, the magic is in the smell of fresh blooms and air-cleaning plants. "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."
Go Green as Often as Possible
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 a rich emerald velvet sofa for your TV room, this fresh hue is a staple in Southern homes. Green décor bursts with feelings of life and vibrance, and when the landscape is your inspiration, you'll find that earthy hues make your home feel as welcoming as it can be.
Mix the Old With the New
"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." If you don't have an array of vintage pieces ready on hand, look to your family's heirlooms or antique markets to find décor with a personality of its own. "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."
Incorporate Modern Touches
Decorate with family heirlooms and antiques, but don't forget to fill your space with modern pieces as well: You don't want the home to feel like a vintage store when your design is completed, so a few new items can blend beautifully with the older eclectic décor. 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 but welcoming.