World travelers Patti and Larry Londre have built a cozy nest around mementos of great adventures
Story By Stephanie Case | Photos by Courtnay Robbins Bragagnolo
On any given day, Patti Londre could be sliding down an Antarctic glacier, driving a candy-colored Chevy on the streets of Havana or aboard an African safari, a yard or two away from a trumpeting baby elephant.
She’s explored all seven continents and visited hundreds of cities. Her food and travel blog, “Worth the Whisk,” features recipes she’s gathered from around the globe: Egyptian tomato soup, Namibia sunset cake. Another, more exotic entry, is one you can’t whip up at home.
“They call it Viking sushi,” Londre says, a snack she tried on a boat in Iceland. The crew netted in fish, mussels, clams and urchins, alive and squirming. Then, the captain took out a butter knife.
Lunch was served.
“As you’re on the water, they’re popping open oysters, and you’re eating them with ginger and soy sauce,” she grins. “It’s so, so fabulous.”
But not every day calls for oysters or safaris. Even the most avid travelers need a home base — or, as Londre describes it, “a soft place to fall.” Hers is Playa Vista.
Londre’s five-story, townhome-style condo at Park Homes, built in 2005, has a simplicity to it that could convert any restless traveler to the slow life. Sunlight streams through three sides of her unit, bringing in warmth and fresh breezes. Multiple enclosed patios surrounded by greenery make perfect spots to lounge, bask in the warm weather and share home-cooked meals with neighbors.
As a young couple, Londre and husband Larry lived and worked in a string of fixer-uppers from Northridge to Westwood.
“We bought a Hungarian restaurant [in Studio City], tore it to smithereens and put it all back together again,” she remembers.
Compared to that, Londre says, “Playa Vista is easier living.” Even the most daunting aspect of their home — five flights of stairs — isn’t such a challenge; turn your head, and a private elevator is ready to sweep you toward the top floor.
Waiting on the roof is a serene view: a panorama of the town.
“The best time up [on the roof] is when the sun goes behind those buildings,” Londre says, pointing southwest towards the sea. Perched atop Park Homes, she can take in sweeping views of Loyola Marymount University and, further off into the horizon, Los Angeles International Airport. “You can watch the planes take off and enjoy a glass of wine,” she adds.
But more often than not, Londre isn’t watching the planes take off; she’s in them. Just this winter, she and her husband jetted off to Morocco to sightsee and taste the cuisine. She returned with an emblem of their adventure: an intricate mandala plate, now hanging on her wall.
It’s one of the many standout pieces that give Londre’s home a global flair. Her kitchen features a United Nations of utensils: salad bowls from Kenya and Tanzania, a fish platter from Barbados and a gleaming wooden cutting board from New Zealand.
So much of the Londres’ home was born out of these moments of serendipity on the road. At a restaurant in Umbria, Patti and her husband ate pasta off of two hand-painted plates — and, on a whim, decided to buy them. They hang in the main living space, evoking a small taste of Italy.
On a drive through rural Vermont, they stopped in an antique barn and were struck by a precious, vintage church window — then repurposed it into cabinet doors.
There’s a constant influx of these finds: an antique slot machine from a Las Vegas trip, a vintage Victrola record player from Erie, Pennsylvania. With every adventure, their home grows and gains more personality.
One of their unique finds is from Playa Vista. Three years ago, Larry Londre noticed that PVPAL (Playa Vista Parks and Landscape Corporation) was throwing away an aerial photo of the early town, back when it was little more than a bean field. Amidst the grass and dirt, he could pick out the rough location of their home with his finger.
“Why would you throw this away?” Larry asks. He salvaged it and hung it across from a map of the globe, pairing their two worlds: big and small.
“[Home] is your ground zero, from where you emanate,” Patti says. “We travel like crazy, but we always come back.”
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