Leanne Ford’s Go-To Vintage Dealer Constantly Rotates Antiques in His Pittsburgh Apartment
No two days are the same for Ryan Yee.
Published Sep 30, 2023 1:22 AM
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Ryan Yee spends his days as a concept artist for video games, and if you’re willing to hear him out, he swears that his full-time gig actually has a lot in common with his side hustle: selling vintage furniture on his Instagram account, Mon Modern. “Design and interiors are just as important in video games as in real life,” he says. “In our game, I Expect You to Die, I get to design 1960s fashion, gadgets, and evil lairs.”
No, he does not live in an evil lair, but a virtuous one-bedroom apartment housed in a former dance studio that he’s filled with his vintage finds. Nothing is permanent, even the furniture, which he rotates in and out on a constant basis. His style has even caught the eye of Leanne Ford, who once came to shop at a pop-up he hosted, and now she reaches out to him when she’s working on projects.
”I switch it up often,” he says, noting that his kitchen table, bedroom mantel, and dresser get the most styling change-ups. “Mixing it up makes it fun for me, and [I like] taking risks and styling objects that are sometimes weird just because. After all, what’s the point of design if you aren’t having fun, right?”
Of course, there are some things he’d never swap, like family heirlooms and art—”You might never come across the same style or artist again,” he says—but ultimately he tries not to get too attached to things, even living things. “At one point I had 100 plants,” Yee says. “You know, I started collecting them and getting rare ones, but I felt like I was more of a caretaker at that point.” (Don’t worry, he found good homes for them.)
When he first moved in, figuring out how to fill the 750-square-foot apartment with all of his favorite things presented him with a challenge. Plus he was working from home, so he wanted his office area separated from his off-the-clock space. The solution? A divider that zones the two. But a less obvious hack also helps: “I like having rugs to define spaces even more,” he says, because dividers can block light. “They anchor the furniture so that it’s not just floating on the ground.” He adds that low-profile pieces can make a small space look roomier.
In the tiny galley kitchen, Yee found a just-right round table for eating, yes, but also for arranging things. “It’s where I switch out objects on a daily basis,” he admits. And while it looks like the legs might be in the way of the cabinets, Yee says he found the “just right” orientation so that the lower cupboard still opens.
Not everything in the apartment is found—the bookshelves came from Room and Board, and his bedding is Morrow Soft Goods—but Yee says that filling his home with objects that tell a story is like peering into another person’s life and then making it a part of his own. Which is one of the reasons why he can’t stop swapping things in and out. Does he ever get misty-eyed over a piece he sold or gave away? “I take lots of photos of my space,” he says. “That way I can still get a sense of the nostalgia without having to own the piece. I’m not giving away the memory.”
And for now, at least, his apartment is settled, and every object, from the 1970s egg lamp to the South American headdress above his sofa, is in its rightful place. That is, until tomorrow.