An Idyllic Isle of Palms Retreat
There is something indescribably alluring about the atmosphere in Charleston and its surrounding Low-country that has attracted creative and adventurous spirits since 1670. It is no wonder the English colonists decided to settle in this spectacular seaside locale nearly 350 years ago. The Historical Society describes Charleston, “A Great City is like a tapestry—their history, character and individuality are the fabric from which they are woven.”
This tempting tapestry is precisely what lured homeowner Alex Opoulos as well as interior designer Cortney Bishop to the Charleston area. Alex grew up in Newport Beach, California, and moved to Isle of Palms in 1994 to be closer to his mother. Originally an Atlanta, Georgia native, Cortney had moved to Sullivan’s Island with her husband in 2005 after graduating from the University of Georgia’s School of Business. She had grown up spending her summers at Kiawah Island and always knew she would one day come back.
The client and designer met through Alex’s wife, Monica, who shared the same close circle of friends as Cortney. The designer is best known for her multilayered philosophy that combines her love of art, fashion and interiors.
The newly married couple had diverse design aesthetics. Alex preferred an industrial West Coast vibe and Monica liked a softer, warmer ambiance. After a serendipitous get-together at Cortney’s Sullivan’s Island home, Alex and Monica knew they had found the interior designer to meet their wishes. Cortney’s talent for mixing styles was exactly what the couple needed.
Being a design aficionado, Alex had enough ideas for multiple projects. He whittled his favorite concepts down to a horseshoe-shaped home with few interior walls and several exterior doors that could take advantage of the pleasant year-round climate.
Alex sketched the floor plan on a napkin for the dream home he wanted to create. The couple had been living in a one-story bungalow he had owned prior to the marriage. Once the architect drew the plans from Alex’s inspiration, the couple and designer continued to collaborate to tweak the footprint and building materials to take it to the next level—including the windows, doors, a vaulted ceiling, concrete columns with metal details and stained wood beams. The house was built for a deeply thoughtful, yet casual, growing family that loved to entertain.
Alex and Monica moved in 2008 after the birth of their first son, Max. Two years later their second child, Maya, was born. Today, the family of four, along with their beloved cat, lives in every room of the house. This includes the outdoor rooms where they spend countless hours on the porch sofa and swing, custom designed by Cortney with local craftsman Matt Decell.
Cortney possesses a unique ability to tailor designs around a single piece of inspiration whether it is a work of art, piece of furniture, or textile. Her trained eye enables her to pair modern accents with timeless pieces evident in every interior of this home.
Artwork plays a prominent role in the design scheme. The work of close artist friends is displayed in the home, the perfect fit for the architecture and modern feel. Anchoring one side of the living room is a piece by John Duckworth from his “Urban Journey” series. The artist was born in San Diego and moved to Charleston in 1993. He lives in an 100-year-old farmhouse in the rural horse country of Johns Island, which now includes a state-of-the-art printing, framing and painting studio. His biography elaborates on his influences: “His works are influenced by the vivid colors of Thiebaud, the quiet solitude of Hopper, the cinematography of Jean-Luc Goddard, the captured moments of Cartier Bresson…walking the line between realism and abstraction, the artist infuses his work with a passion for pure color, and intimate knowledge of nature, and a rhythm drawn from life itself.”
The living room showcases the work of these artists and perfectly reflects blurred lines of the project between inside vs. outside and industrial vs. domestic comfort. Monica softened the industrial feel by switching from concrete to oak floors and encouraging a warm palette with soothing textures for the textile choices.
The kitchen continues the relaxed and rustic feeling of the house. A bay of windows overlooking the yard lightens the space instead of the typical row of upper cabinets. Another set of cabinets is covered in chalkboard paint encouraging young artistic fingers to express them.
Just off of the kitchen a keeping room houses a cozy sitting area with a low slung sofa upholstered in cotton suede, a Moroccan shag rug, modern leather chair and painting by Aspen artist Tori Mitas-Campisi. According to the artist, her art is “driven by color and adorned with equal parts humility and humor. Her life—good, bad, quirky and messy—underlies every piece and pattern she paints, adding an unexpected sophistication to otherwise simple, universal themes.”
In the master bedroom, a rustic platform bed made out of Brazilian peroba wood was the starting point for the room. Alex, Monica and Cortney discovered the Southern Californian furniture line Environment that had the rough yet luxurious and organic lines they wanted to use in the décor. After the lead designer from Rio de Janiero charmed them with capirinihas, they ended up with the bed, a reclaimed wood chest and a leather sofa from the same line. Over-scaled French industrial lamps and a shag rug complete the room. A painting by Ann Keane, purchased through Charleston Artist Collective, hangs above the bed. The artist moved to Charleston 14 years ago. The sense of movement in her paintings is influenced by music. Moving while she paints keeps the energy flowing. A palette knife is used to carve lines and shapes to construct a canvas full of movement.
The children’s rooms continue the same relaxed aesthetic but with a bit more whimsy. Max’s room displays a gallery of his own artistic projects that are constantly changing adding color and energy to the room. A framed photograph of a lone young surfer hangs above his bed. In Maya’s room, favorite storybook images hang on a string above her bed which is adorned with whimsical printed and woven pillows. These details add colorful accents to the all white backdrop.
This Isle of Palms residence embodies the essence of the creative Charleston spirit. Alex, Monica and Cortney have created an idyllic retreat that perfectly reflects their easy going and organic yet luxurious lifestyle. The home serves as homage to the local craftsman and artists in the area.
Cortney elaborates on the creativity in Charleston: “There was a time in my late 20s when I felt Charleston was not moving forward. Times have changed and I find myself in the middle of a modern-day renaissance. We are a community made up of like-minded entrepreneurs who feed off each other’s energy…we are hardworking and creative…and a whole lot of fun!
About the Designer
Called “The Sophisticate” in Lonny magazine’s “Next Big Name” feature, Cortney Bishop is known for her Southern refinement with a contemporary twist. In addition to her residential and commercial projects, she is currently working on a “dream space” for the art students of SCAD in Savannah and relocating her studio to the Charleston Art District. Her work has been featured in Garden and Gun, Traditional Home, Art Mag, Charleston Magazine, HGTV, Charleston Home and The Atlantan. Cortney lives on Sullivan’s Island with her husband Baker, two children, Ryder and Lucy Kohl, and two adoring dogs.