Entertaining in style. Ted Kennedy Watson at a book signing for his first book, Style & Simplicity: An A to Z Guide to Living a More Beautiful Life.




“I LOVE things, and objects. They have a past; we are only their keepers until they move on to the next possessor.” 


When it comes to collecting, decorating, and entertaining, we love to turn to our friend Ted Kennedy Watson, whose new book, Ted Kennedy’s Guide To Stylish Entertaining comes out this August. 


The inspiration behind his new book? Ted shared, “This book is a love letter to entertaining and all the family and friends who we have been so fortunate to celebrate with over the years.”


Ted  knows how to liven up any dinner party regardless of what’s on the menu – whether it be catered foie gras or reheated fried chicken.


How it began, Ted moved to Seattle to become a professional tennis coach at the prestigious Seattle Tennis Club upon graduating from college and while there had the privilege of being asked to join the creative team for Bill and Melinda Gates’ very secretive, very stylish wedding festivities. He was inspired to begin a career in the visual arts by representing friends who were creating interesting objects and eventually opened a wholesale showroom where he sold to retailers across the country like Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, and Saks Fifth Avenue.


Ted opened his first shop, Watson Kennedy Fine Living, twenty-one years ago in the heart of Seattle’s historic Pike Place Market and a few years later opened his second. Ted tells us about his life as finder, shopkeeper, curator, entertainer, and more, below.





Ted Kennedy Watson



An idyllic escape. Ted’s home, WestWard, on Vashon Island outside Seattle, WA. Image from Flower Mag.




Seattle, Vashon Island and Ghent in the Hudson Valley





Shopkeeper (WatsonKennedy.com), author, daily blogger (TedKennedyWatson.com), stylist and finder of fine goods



Tell us about the inspiration behind Watson Kennedy…


Watson Kennedy to me is about creating a stylish world the moment you cross the threshold. The scent and music instantly become part of the experience. The displays, organized by color or theme, are part of the visual story. The five senses all meant to be put into play. It has always been a goal that the feel is like you are entering one of our homes as a guest—you feel cared for. The goods, the best of the best in each category. Mariage Freres, Cire Trudon, John Derian, Molton Brown, Birdie Hall, Diptyque, vintage Wedgwood, Henry Dean, La Soufflerie, Hugo Guinness, vintage Baccarat, fresh, Agraria, Juliska. I have always wanted the feel to be like a shop off a tiny street in Paris or London. Where everything you buy is wrapped in tissue paper and presented to you like a gift.



Putting the five senses in play. Watson Kennedy Fine Living in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. Image from The Uptown Acorn.



My Personal Style


Preppy, sporty, classic. For my attire, gingham, checks, stripes, plaid. Khakis, navy blazer. Seersucker suit. Bucks. Stan Smiths. The Rolex my parents gave me for my 21st birthday I have worn every day since. Makes me think of them. That Lisa Birnbach wrote the foreword to my book has tremendous meaning for me, given my preppy leanings. Monograms. On my days off I often live in a white button down with my monogram, jeans and Topsiders. Handwritten notes. Manners key. Kindness & love are always at the top of my list.

For interiors, vintage is key. Ticking stripes. Original artwork everywhere. Apple green. Make that just about every shade of green! Lemon yellow. Candles abound. Low lighting. Heirloom pieces.



Given your affinity for stylish entertaining, any favorite recipes and music?


My new book has lots of my favorite recipes in it. Like a zucchini & potato tian. Chicken with Meyer lemons, olives & rosemary. Dungeness crab, corn and white cheddar frittata.

As for favorite pieces, I can't stress enough the importance of USING the good stuff. Daily. That gorgeous set of dinnerware from your grandparents, use it!

For music, head to my daily blog for a list of Spotify playlists I created just for you.



Well stocked. Ted’s hand-picked collection of French rosé in preparation for summer social engagements.



3 Easy Tips For A Late-Summer Party:


No. 1, buy a case of 12 different types of rosé, invite a group of friends over. Have a rosé tasting which will quickly become a party!

No. 2, head to the beach with a full stocked cooler and overflowing picnic basket and text a bunch of friends to join you. 

No. 3, host a shrimp boil. Haul your dining table outside, line it with newspapers. Load up a big ice bucket with beer. Pour the shrimp boil right onto the table. Use oversized dish towels as the napkins.



Must-have entertaining items:


--Candles, lots and lots of candles. Clear unscented votives, a crazy number of them, a personal favorite. The flicker everywhere, magical.

--Big, hearty white platters in many sizes. Food looks great on them and you can set them here & there.

--Find a favorite wine and make it your house wine. Always have extra of it on hand.



My favorite entertaining memory...


Our 20th anniversary party at our apartment in Seattle. 100+ of our favorite people packed in. Our pooch Bailey here and there among the guests. French 75s flowed. So much laughter and love filled the rooms.



Favorite host/hostess gift:


Always a mix of something to consume and something to be long remembered. Like a bottle of Champagne wrapped in a beautiful French dish towel. Or flowers in a lovely vintage vase. Or homemade granola in a vintage canning jar.



Must read. Ted’s book Ted Kennedy Watson’s Guide to Stylish Entertaining, out August 23rd.



What inspired you to write the book?


We have hosted parties and suppers at our homes for close to 35 years. It is a very personal look into what we have enjoyed and what we have learned, as I wrote in my introduction. This book is a love letter to entertaining and all the family and friends who we have been so fortunate to celebrate with over the years. I hope it speaks to you and ignites a passion for inviting folks over for a drink, a meal, or a party and all the good times those bring and memories they create.



What was your favorite part about writing the book?


I have been so lucky to have written, styled & photographed both of my books. It allows me to be super creative and get into every last little detail and I can have it exactly as I envision it. As I mentioned earlier, it is highly personal. Sharing what we have learned over the years meant lots to me.



Entertaining rituals. Ted and his husband Ted Sive with their dog Bailey relaxing before a soiree. Image from Flower Mag.



What is your ritual before guests arrive?


We like to sit with our cocktail for 15 minutes before guests arrive and chill a bit. It's nice to catch your breath and be relaxed when you start greeting folks.



When I need inspiration I...


Look through old design magazines. What is old is often new again. A room by Albert Hadley can be just as fresh now as it was then. Or tweak it a bit and make it your own. Be it a table setting, design of a room, even a look for a piece of clothing or outfit.





Live in the moment.










Assume you know what is going through someone’s head. I own retail stores. I deal with folks all day long. They might be having a bad day and it has nothing to do with me or our interaction. By being kind to them, it might just turn around their day.



The best piece of life advice I’ve ever received:


My history teacher in high school, who was also my tennis coach. He said if you learn one thing from my class, it is this. Everything is relative. And he was so right! It really helps you put things into perspective, every day. About just about everything.



Inspiring blooms. Ted’s most recent Flower Friday blog post on Ted Kennedy Watson.



Currently inspired by:


Always, flowers.



Current indulgence:


My Veuve love runs pretty deep. And often! A tin of caviar always makes me beyond happy. A fresh piece of vintage English hotel silver is always hard to pass up to go in our growing collection.



Currently reading/watching/listening to:


Reading the latest David Sedaris book. I read anything and everything from him. David is a Watson Kennedy customer. Just finished The Hotel Nantucket, by Elin Hilderbrand out at our beach place, WestWard on Vashon Island when we were out for the week.

Only Murders in the Building, Hacks. We adore them both. I just rewatched Ted Lasso while I had breakfast each morning, as I was needing a hit of positivity and a good laugh.



A Seattle fixture. Ted’s shops Watson Kennedy are a must stop for visitors, friends, and locals.



Seattle Restaurants/Museums/Destinations:


The Watson Kennedy shops. Of course!

Spinasse. Some of the best Italian. Ever. Anywhere.

Café Campagne. Our neighbor in the Pike Place Market. Rosé and frites sitting outside watching folks stroll on by…

The Seattle Art Museum. Always a must. It sits right in between both Watson Kennedy shops, so I drive/walk by it always.

Take the ferry to our beloved Vashon Island and spend an afternoon driving around all the amazing organic farm stands collecting things to make an out of this world supper at your Airbnb.



New York Restaurants/Museums/Destinations:


Ghent, in the Hudson Valley

Supper at Local 111 in Philmont, which is just a few minutes from our old farmhouse, Hawthorne.

Bartlett House in Ghent for breakfast on their porch.

Red Chair on Warren in Hudson for the most amazing selection of European antiques. Our house is filled with treasures from there.

The Chatham Bookstore in Chatham. We could peruse and choose books for hours.



Favorite J.McLaughlin Styles...

Shop Ted’s Favorite J.McLaughlin Styles, Below: