Shopping in Seattle with Ted Kennedy Watson

Retailer and author Ted Kennedy Watson takes us to some of the city's best restaurants, cafes and shops—and shares his plan for the perfect Seattle day.

Acclaimed retailer and design-guru Ted Kennedy Watson will publish his first book, Style and Simplicity: An A to Z Guide to Living A More Beautiful Life, on May 6th. His two Seattle stores, Watson Kennedy Fine Home and Watson Kennedy Fine Living, are a favorite among stylish hostesses and shoppers in-the-know, and have been featured in magazines like InStyle and House Beautiful. We got a chance to sit down with the first-time author and curator extraordinaire about his life in Seattle and his guide to spending a perfect day shopping, eating and making life more beautiful in the Emerald City.

What is your fondest Seattle memory?

November 23rd, 1998, the day I opened my first shop, Watson Kennedy Fine Living, in historic Pike Place Market, and May 6th, 2014, the day my book, Style & Simplicity: An A to Z Guide to Living a More Beautiful Life, will be released.

Where do you like to eat out?

We are very big Café Campagne fans—they are my neighbor in the Market. We've been fans since the very beginning when Peter Lewis owned it, and still, it's always sublime. We will get back from Paris and have dinner there, and we always walk away saying the frites are better at Café Campagne.  Same goes for Café Presse, which is close to our home on First Hill, so we walk to it.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Winning the National Retail Excellence Award for Visual Merchandising a few years ago, was pretty special. Being approach by a legendary New York publisher to write my book is also right up there. Running and owning the Watson Kennedy shops & website for 15+ years—and all the day in and day out stuff that requires—has been pretty darn cool too.

What Seattle landmark could you not live without?

The Pike Place Market. It's a national treasure, really. There is nothing else quite like it. I still pinch myself that I have a shop there.

What is your favorite part of your job?

The people first and foremost. From the amazingly cool customers from around the globe to the incredible people that make up the Watson Kennedy family that I get to work beside each day.

How would you define Seattle style?  

I think Seattle style has evolved quite a bit in the 28 years I have lived here. It's relaxed, confident and thoughtful. For home, the earth and water tones of our stellar surroundings make up a warm & comfortable vibe.  For clothes, I think the same could be said.  But what I like most is we don't really have a "style" that we all feel we must adhere to, so it really allows for more self expression.  

Where do you shop in Seattle?

The Vashon Thriftway which is on Vashon Island—where our week-end beach place is—I call it our Dean & Deluca. The Pike Place Market stalls for flowers, fruit and produce.  Filson, Brooks Brothers and Nordstrom for attire.

What are some of your favorite products in the store right now?

Pieces from my friend Hugo Guinness—both originals and lino-cuts. Big or small, they make me swoon. Fun fact: Hugo co-wrote The Grand Budapest Hotel with Wes Anderson. The vintage hotel silver from England that we have re-silvered is always my favorite. The tea we import from Mariage Frères in Paris, I adore.

Do you have any favorite locally based products/designers?

Ballard Bee honey, JonBoy caramels, Little Shirley vases, Marge granola, Scrappy's Bitters and artist Andrea Savar's vintage composed necklaces. In honor of my book, Glassybaby put together Style & Simplicity sets that we sell at both shops and on my website, as well.  

What do you do in your free time around Seattle?

Oh my gosh, I do not have a lot of free time in Seattle.  We just bought an old farmhouse in the Hudson River Valley, so when we are in Seattle, we concentrate on work. If I have a spare moment, I love vintage shopping at Pike Place Antiques or Pacific Galleries. Both of those spots are antique malls so there is a ton of variety and I always find something we can't live without.

What do you usually visitors they absolutely MUST do in Seattle?  

Walk and walk and walk. It is such a great city for wandering. The Olympic Sculpture Park and Seattle Art Museum are a must. Head to the top of Queen Anne for an amazing view of our glorious city and Sound from Kerry Park. Take the ferry over to Bainbridge Island—it is an easy way to get a chance to be on the water.

Perfect Day

9 am: A leisurely morning

My perfect day would start with sleeping in a bit then getting up and writing my daily blog post—which I have done every morning for the last 3 years. Then, a walk to Stumptown for coffee with my husband and our pooch Bailey. Next, we'd hop in the car and head to the Pike Place Market where the visual stimulation is amazing—flowers, produce, cheese, meats. Here, we would pick up things for dinner.  

Noon: Shop and Lunch

For lunch, we'd sit outside at Le Pichet. Then we'd shop a little up and down First Avenue, stopping in to say hi at both my shops. Then it would be time to hop in the car and check out the stores in Madison Valley and Madison Park, for a continued stroll. Finally, we'd head to Madrona where they make Glassybaby and buy one to add to our collection. 

3 pm: A Quick Bite

Time to stop into Taylor Shellfish for oysters and wine before heading home to make dinner. We'd take dinner up to our rooftop garden and enjoy the view of the Puget Sound and our beloved city around us.  

9 pm: A Nightcap

After dinner drinks at The Sorrento.