Ryan Rali was looking for a change—having lived with roommates for years, the Chicago-based consultant was looking to find a place where he could live alone while still remaining in the heart of the city. He found it at Avenir in Chicago’s River West neighborhood.
“I'm not in The Loop, per se, but I'm close enough to this city where the neighborhood still has that kind of feeling. Lincoln Park, Lake View and Wrigleyville have kind of a distinct neighborhood feel, which is fine for what that is, but it’s not what I enjoy most about Chicago.”
Ryan describes his style as “modern, masculine and a little bit minimal” and the design of Avenir allowed him to let his style show. “A lot of these buildings that I went to were outdated,” he explains. “When you look (at Avenir), it's a black glass building, it has a cool ‘super villain’ type of look. It’s very aesthetically pleasing, in my opinion.”
Beyond the location, Ryan was seeking an apartment without carpet, an updated kitchen with stainless steel appliances, and white countertops. “I know that sounds particular, but that’s just who I am.”
As a consultant, Ryan is used to traveling for work and not spending a whole lot of time at home, but that changed when the coronavirus pandemic forced him to switch to working from home full-time. While he had gotten away from the distraction of roommates, finding an apartment that gave him the proper space to work was also critical. “I pull out the Ori table and I have a chair that I keep in my closet that I pull out for the work day.” The building also offers a coworking space that Ryan uses for days when he has lots of phone calls, just to be extra courteous to his neighbors.
When it came down to decorating his new apartment, Ryan had a few pieces to build around and sought out many of his other items at stores like Home Goods, TJ Maxx, and Target—with a few items from West Elm thrown in for good measure. “In a perfect world, I’d go down to West Elm or CB2 and just throw my credit card on the counter and go crazy, but I’m not there yet.” Ryan wanted to keep a masculine look, utilizing lots of neutral colors and black. \"It can be tough to decorate as a man. You go to most guy apartments and it's just flags everywhere,\" Ryan explains. \"So when shopping for decor, it was always tough to find things that weren't overly feminine. Trying to find that balance was something that I struggled with a bit at first.\"
His love of music is brought out by his guitar (an Epiphone), which besides being a relaxing hobby also provides a nice decor piece. Complimenting the guitar is his wall of vinyl records, on display on the bedroom side of his Ori Pocket Studio Lite.
Living in a small space, keeping “stuff” to a minimum is important to Ryan. While a new guitar may be tempting, he tries to remember that every new item needs a place to live in his apartment. “Do I want a new guitar? Sure. Would it kind of fit in my apartment? Technically, yes. But would it make sense in the space? Would it look good? Or would I feel cramped? Those are all questions that pop in my head before I buy anything like that.”
Keeping in line with his “no clutter” mentality, Ryan uses a black leaf tray he picked up at West Elm to organize wardrobe accessories—rings, necklaces, etc—to keep them organized but easily accessible.
While entertaining friends at his apartment has been minimal in the last year, Ryan does enjoy having friends over for a nice cocktail from his bar cart—a centerpiece of decor that he inherited from his cousin. “Over the last two months, I’ve learned how to make a really great Old Fashioned.” While in a typical studio, guests may have to sit on your bed, having the Ori Pocket Studio Lite lets Ryan conceal his bedroom and expand the living room for guests to spread out and be comfortable. “If I’m having a date or a few people over, the Ori helps save a lot of space.”