“Maintaining and improving the building has been a challenge, and we lost some residents due to assessments, but in the end the building is in top condition, and the current residents are grateful,” Phyllis says. Both Phyllis and Ken come from families of collectors; Ken’s mother owned the Richelle Gallery in Clayton from 1960 to 1968, and a few pieces from the gallery jump-started the Langsdorfs’ contemporary art collection. Ken’s mother brought many French and Italian artists to St. Louis, including Charles Levier, Claude Venard, Nicola Simbari and Pierre Doutreleau, who are each represented in the Langsdorfs’ collection. The couple’s passion for art has led to an eclectic collection that not only focuses on contemporary paintings, but also pieces made with glass and wood, as well as photography. Phyllis’ stepmother was an artist, and she has been interested in paintings and sculptures since childhood. In the past few years, Ken and Phyllis sold their extensive collection of Chinese monochrome pottery in London and New York to make way for new glass and wood works. In the couple’s dining room, a large and striking painting by Martina Nehrling commands the room. Titled My Grandmother’s Lipsticks, the painting has a poignant story – Nehrling inherited her grandmother’s lipstick collection, and the painting represents the many shades of lipstick. In addition to paintings and sculptures, Phyllis also collects teapots. She loves to drink tea, and one year, a friend gifted her with a beautiful teapot for her birthday. Today, her collection of teapots is primarily displayed in the couple’s kitchen, where they complement the antique Spanish art nouveau tiles in the backsplash, which the Langdorfs purchased on a trip to Spain. “It only took an hour and a half to go through all they had and hand-select the ones we wanted,” Phyllis says with a smile. Although vastly different, Phyllis has managed to seamlessly combine and curate contemporary artwork with antique pieces in the couple’s home. After years working in the fashion industry, Phyllis has a trained eye for scale and proportions, leading to a home filled with just the right balance of color, texture, whimsy and history.
Above: The stairway to the second floor is bookended by a collection of Indian baskets and black and white photography. Below: Phyllis’ extensive collection of sculptural and colorful teapots began with the gift of a simple white teapot.