Ted Kennedy Watson has led a very colorful life. The Washington-based style guru is a former tennis pro, an author (), a , and a popular “purveyor of fine goods,” thanks to two Seattle locations of his namesake store, .
The need for color extends far beyond Ted’s vibrant shops—all the way to the shores of Vashon Island, Washington (population: 10,624). That’s where he and husband Ted Sive escape to WestWard, their 650-square-foot weekend retreat that’s nestled away on three private acres.
Ted named the place shortly after buying it some 20 years ago—something he heartily recommends. “Everyone should name their house—big or small! Name your apartment, for goodness’ sake. It personalizes it and makes it yours,” he says. The pair of Ws represents the name of the cabin—WestWard—and makes appearances both inside the cabin and out.
To complement the exterior’s original shade of red as well as the stunning view, Ted chose all-American accents, including and chairs. “When you flip the sofa cushions over, it’s a red stripe,” he says. “There are lots of ways to make furniture more fun.”
Both Teds like to cook, so the kitchen is as user-friendly as it is stylish. They chose stainless steel countertops and removed the doors from the upper cupboards so everything is beautifully displayed and accessible. Their secret ingredient for entertaining: the butcher-block-topped rolling island. “We pull it right up to the sink. It can go out on the deck as a bar. It’s a major workhorse,” says Ted.
"I like to mix and match vintage patterns," says Ted. "Sometimes people don’t have eight of something, and that can stop them from entertaining because they don’t have a matching set. But it’s more fun to use different silverware, plates, glasses, and napkins,” he says. He also advises using natural elements like leaves from the hydrangeas that work as place cards.
When they first bought the house, Ted says they bought a lot of “flaggy” things, including the red desk with stars and stripes painted on top. An ever-growing collection of artwork hangs above. Storage is at a premium in the small cabin, so many of their collections are hardworking, including the McCoy pottery on the bookcase. Says Ted, “Most of it has something inside—matches, old birds’ nests, keys, a wallet.”
While christening the place was a breeze, getting it up to the couple’s style standards was not. “We bought it from the former mayor of Seattle, and while I hate to make it sound terrible, it was in need of some serious love. Everything was very dark—the cabinets, the paneling,” Ted says. But the couple was inspired by the “major” flagpole left behind (“It’s 35 feet tall,” Ted says), so when they started redoing the property, they opted to keep the Americana theme—and the rich red exterior—already in place.
Ted loved the idea of a sleeping porch, so he created his own take with an outdoor bed. “It’s covered, so it’s a great spot when it’s raining,” he says.
Artist Amy Duncan covered the wall of the tree house with the pages of vintage maritime and bird-watching books. “It took about a day to install. We just love it. It’s weathered incredibly well,” says Ted.
In addition to mixing and matching everything from chairs to dishware, Ted likes to use unexpected items for tabletop decor—like his collection of vintage pool balls. “My favorite number is 11, so I only buy ones with that number,” he says.
Ted Kennedy Watson (right), husband Ted Sive, and schnauzer Bailey relax on the downstairs landing. “We never feel like we have a small house because there are lots of different places to be on the property,” says Ted.