After 2 Years of Living With an Open Studio Plan, This Photographer DIYed a Soothing Teal Room Divider
She carried the color into the living room to avoid a jarring accent wall.
Published May 2, 2023 1:10 AM
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Brooklyn-based photographer Sharon Radisch’s Saturday mornings are a lot like the still life scenes she captures for a living. After sleeping in (but not too late), she heads to her living room with a cup of tea in hand and reads for hours. “I like to alternate positions. Sometimes I’ll be on the couch, sometimes on the chair by the sideboard, sometimes by the window, depending on the sunlight,” says Radisch. Otherwise, her movements are minimal. Her rescue dog, Ray, named after iconic artist and designer Ray Eames, remains just as calm as Mom: Radisch doesn’t worry that she’ll knock her mug from the miniature marble plinth next to the sofa that she often uses in lieu of a traditional coffee table. “I’ve never once had a spill,” she shares.
Eventually, Radisch will set up an art station on her kitchen island that’ll sit there all weekend so she can revisit a canvas as she pleases. (Her creative work extends to painting, furniture design, and, more recently, installing gallery exhibitions.) The space was a big selling point when she was in the midst of her extensive apartment hunt back in October 2020: “I’ve never had a full kitchen in New York,” she says. This and her 39th-floor views that stretch to the Verrazzano Bridge would leave you thinking her space is vast, but really her rental is only 653 square feet.
After two or so years of living with the open studio layout, Radisch decided to create some separation with a room divider, first testing out the look with a simple sheet of fabric and two tension poles. The final freestanding structure was a total DIY (hiring a contractor or furniture maker to construct something would have been expensive and time-consuming). Radisch applied one coat of primer and two coats of Mediterranean Teal to a sheet of lightweight corrugated PVC roofing and then propped up the wavy faux wall on stone lamp bases and poles.
The soothing dark blue-green hue is the result of many swatch tests (20, to be exact). “I had green brushstrokes all over,” recalls Radisch. To avoid the visual harshness of a lone accent wall, she continued the paint around her bedroom nook and part of the living room. But despite the big splash of color, Radisch considers her style pretty minimalist. “I just didn’t want my apartment to be all beige,” she adds.
It was important that her artwork continue the sense of flow, too. Feeling inspired by an exhibition she saw at the Guggenheim years ago, Radisch intentionally left negative space between the small artworks hanging in the corner of her living room, going so far as to mount one work near the ceiling. The arrangement draws your eye up and around the room in an organic way. “I felt like there was a horizontal line going all the way around my apartment. This really has opened up the space quite a bit,” she shares. Next to the window is one of her most prized possessions: an announcement card for Jean-Michel Basquiat’s second art show, which she scored at an auction. “I don’t have the hundreds of millions it would take to afford one of his works, but this almost means more, because it was at the opening that made him famous,” she explains.
Even the plug-in pendant light in her bedroom is displayed unconventionally. Instead of a simple single swag, she bought multiple cord holders and created a zigzag effect to make the very pointy corner a little more dynamic. Her only regret? Stacking a wobbly stool on top of a chair when she tried to hang the fixture. “Four hours and a knee injury later, I had it up,” she recalls.
Similarly, Radisch approached the awkward space next to her kitchen, outside her bathroom and closets, as if it were a gallery. She painted the area an inky black in the spirit of embracing its lack of natural light, hung works in sleek frames to elevate the contrast of the white mats, and situated a sculpture on a superlow side table. As a quick cure for her clinical-feeling bathroom, she painted the walls green and hung less precious works, paying no mind to even or symmetrical spacing. “I’m happiest when there’s art everywhere,” says Radisch.