A designer with a vision and the skills to pull off everything from party planning to custom furniture design and exterior builds, Southern interior designer Cortney Bishop is a wide-ranging talent with flair and cool to spare. Self-described “lighting obsessed” and infatuated with styles that run the gamut from minimalist to global, Cortney’s spaces are always polished and packed with energy. From hardware to light fixtures and everything in-between, it's clear she sweats the smallest details, never relying on a one-size-fits-all solution. Read our interview below to see her top Schoolhouse lighting picks and why she believes the key to good design lies in balance.
Describe your aesthetic when it comes to decorating. What styles are you drawn to personally?
“I typically stray from the expectations of traditional interior design. No rules are the best rules. All of our projects are different, no true stamp of one aesthetic, just refined with a nod in one direction. Making each project uniquely its own and true to the client's lifestyle is at the forefront of our mission.”
What are some of your go-to basics when it comes to decorating a space?
“Start with the vibe of the architecture and take the view and landscape into consideration. Then go for a good rug and build from the ground up.”
Favorite design trends or timeless looks that you love?
“If I had to choose, I would say Authentic Italian Art Deco. It’s the warmth and richness of the glossy woods mixed with that refined edge of black. I am drawn to masculine design - there's no hiding that. The real beauty is in the New Era, where we're mixing a bit of it all!”
Tell us a little about your process when it comes to designing a space for clients:
“Design needs a balance of personality, creativity, quality, comfort, and functionality – preferably with a dose of modern flair. The process takes time and honest collaboration to develop a strong design story. I've learned to be really honest with clients that good design doesn't happen overnight."
Favorite projects you’ve done?
"My favorites are the ones with memorable backstories. Two years ago, we restored a farmhouse in Virginia where the prototype of President George Washington's uncle's tombstone was found on the property. We preserved and installed it on the home's original stone fireplace. A recent favorite is a true collaboration with a young couple who moved to Charleston from New York City. Our client purchased the last lot on The Battery, Charleston's first historic neighborhood facing the harbor. Together with the architect and homeowners, we designed the entire home from the ground up with a sensibility for the young family's needs, but also with nod of elegance to the landmark location.”
Where do you find most of your inspiration and who are your influences?
“It sounds cliché, but everywhere. I am one of those happy morning people who believes God is behind every mastermind. We just have to be open to receive. Professionally, my biggest influence is my father - no question."
Least favorite design trends?
“That ‘pop of color’. Why just one ‘pop’?"
Favorite color palette or materials to work with?
"Small printed and woven textures and fabrics are my go-to’s. They're more interesting and inviting, and definitely not static. That mix of pattern, texture and color leads to comfort and I strive to extract tones that maybe folks don’t notice at first glance to create a new palette.”
What’s your top design trick to share?
“Don't be afraid of black. Add a punch of it somewhere whether it be painting your window mullions or framing out a great piece of art. There's always room for it."
What’s your dream design project?
“To design my dream home with a view of the marsh.”
Finally, what makes a house a home to you?
“A home where you instantly feel welcome, at ease, and inspired by the space.”
Photography courtesy of Cortney Bishop Design