Words by Laura Spencer | Photos by Brynn Burns
At his European-styled West Plaza home, an antiques dealer displays his favorite treasures.
Woodson Antiques & Interiors owner Blake Craghead says he learned to love antiques as a kid, driving around mid-Missouri with his father to auctions. If a piece was made of walnut, he says, they’d likely stay all day to bid on it.
“He was, I guess you would say, a collector and a refurbisher,” Blake says, “and so the entire home was basically filled with antiques.”
The same is true today of Blake’s ivy-covered West Plaza home, charmingly entered via cobblestone off-street parking and an iron gate. Spunky goldendoodle Woodson—also the shop’s ambassador—may bark a greeting from the back patio, which is currently undergoing a transformation centered on a fence-height lion’s head fountain from neighbor and longtime antiques dealer Linda W. Pearce.
The pair of homes stand out among the surrounding bungalows and modern infills, appearing as though in a faraway time and place of their own in terms of material choices, antique additions and landscaping.
Behind a hedge of European hornbeam, Blake’s one-bedroom home isn’t large by today’s standards—but high ceilings and skylights make it feel quite spacious. Blake enclosed a patio to gain extra space for a dining room, in which he hired an artisan to build out a cupboard using salvaged doors from France.
A large tapestry dated from 1580 makes a statement about the technology of the day: It shows Alexander the Great looking into the latest invention—the mirror.
Blake also salvaged and restored patterned oak floors, which he had laid throughout the dining room and kitchen.
“They were painted blue and red, and I had to get out the sander with super gritty sandpaper to get it all off,” Blake says.
The home is the perfect capsule for Blake’s collections, of which there are many, gathered over a lifetime but most of them more recently.
Blake approached the former owners of Woodson Antiques & Interiors at their Civil War–era farmhouse in Raymore, Missouri, and asked them to let him know if they would ever sell.
“It combined two of my passions: antiques and travel, especially to Europe,” Blake says.
In 2010, he acquired the business.
“It’s seldom when passions and careers intersect,” he adds, “but when they do, you just take the leap and go for it.”
These days, Blake travels four or five times a year on buying trips to Northern France, Belgium and Holland. But there’s a certain amount of serendipity to it.
“It’s not like you can go over there with a specific list,” he explains. “You have to buy what’s available.”
“Most of the time, I buy what I like,” he continues. “And sometimes I buy things that I don’t like, but I know that they sell well and that there’s a demand for them. So, it’s a little bit of a mix.”
A collector of things ranging from art and books to corkscrews, inkwells and even canes and umbrellas, Blake says his line of work requires restraint.
“There are a lot of things that I want to keep for myself, but I have to eat as well,” he says with a laugh.