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Calm, Cool and Collected

Less is more comfortable for Alan and Pat Rypinski, who once owned five homes.

October 07, 2000|ANN CONWAY

In the spotlight: The 5,000-square-foot Lido Isle home of Armor All founder Alan Rypinski and his wife, Pat. Once owners of five homes simultaneously, the couple have pared down their peripatetic lifestyle and now divide their time between their Mediterranean-style home and a condominium they own at Hamilton Cove on Catalina Island.

Quick take: Beloved antique toys, oil paintings, a treasure chest of European crystal and museum-quality accessories such as Venetian blackamoors, marble obelisks and wooden sculptures dot the rooms of the Rypinski residence.

The eye-popping collections were painstakingly acquired during the couple's shopping forays around the world. "We love to shop together," Alan said. "We went through a period of about 20 years when, if we couldn't eat it, we'd buy it."

The house they wanted: Weary of the challenge of maintaining several residences, the Rypinskis shed them, one by one, and hunted for a home that would afford them the luxury of the quick getaway. "We love the fact that we can lock up this house in a hurry and take off on a trip somewhere," Alan said.

Overseeing the operation of five homes--two with staff--was "an absolute nightmare," Pat said. "Decorating them was fun, but keeping them and maintaining them was like running a small corporation."

The Rypinskis, who have been married for 39 years, have culled favorite treasures from their former households and brought them to their oak-floored, off-water home on Lido Isle.

The remaining collectibles have been placed in storage. "We have scaled our possessions down to the things we really like," said Pat, who once owned an antiques shop in San Juan Capistrano. "Now, we're surrounded by the best of our best and we only buy something if we really think it's unique and we have a place for it."

Showcase for toys: Settle back on the cushy sofa in the Rypinskis' family room, and you behold an antique toy collection that is one of the home's primary catalysts for conversation. "What's that?" "How old is it?" "What's it worth?" These are the questions that antique-toy collector Alan Rypinski is used to hearing from his guests.

Alan points to a small, antique tin car on the mantel: "It's either a model of a Pierce Arrow or a Franklin," he said. "It's about 80 years old and very valuable. It's a piece of art, an investment."

Also on view: A small train with a steam engine that took an artist "5,000 hours to build," Alan said.

"There's nothing profoundly special about any of the toys," he added. "I just buy things I like."

Where angels tread: A whimsical collection of carved, wooden angels and dramatic candelabra--favorites of Pat's--embellish the slate-paved foyer of the Rypinski home. "Alan thought I was starting a church--but I'm not," she quipped.

A favorite cherub sports a hot-yellow fedora, a happy reminder of a birthday bash the couple attended for good friend Judie Argyros of Newport Beach. "Sometimes the angel wears a fez and sometimes a holiday hat," Pat said. "We change it from time to time, depending on our mood."

For the Rypinskis, collecting is as much about spending time together as it is bringing home a treasure. "We have such a good time," Pat said. "But sometimes I think: 'Zen would be nice.' "

Ann Conway can be reached at (714) 966-5952 or by e-mail at

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