I met the Teds, as I affectionately and efficiently refer to them, 9 years ago. I came to Vashon Island to produce a story for Country Living magazine on WestWard, their weekend home. Ted Watson is the proprietor of Watson Kennedy, well known Seattle shopping destinations. He blogs regularly about the good life, and will be a published author in 2014. Ted Sive is a business and marketing consultant for architects, engineers, and contractors. They are industrious, creative, and charitable men, and WestWard is a much needed retreat.
Watson and Sive bought the house in 1999 from a former Mayor of Seattle. The property included a main house and one smaller building which now serves as studio and guest quarters. They have since built two other small structures. They named it WestWard in honor of its hillside perch overlooking Puget Sound.
The location celebrates beach and country living. While the red, white, and blue décor lends itself to a summer photo shoot, in real life, the crisp patriotic palette rises to the occasion in any season. The classic color scheme reflects the pleasures of their American life and Ted Watson’s Francophile alter ego.
The drive from ferry to cabin goes through town, offers plenty of lush rural scenery, and ends on a narrow dirt plateau. WestWard is then a seven flight or 50-step climb down. The main house finally appears. Painted red with white trim, it stands out amongst the green trees and deep teal water. In physical size, the house is a modest 700 square feet. In soul, it is abundant.
French doors are flung open nearly year round unless it is super cold or raining badly. A hardworking wood-burning stove counterbalances the Seattle chill and makes the inside of the cabin even warmer and cozier. Slip-covered furniture and throw blankets increase the comfort factor.
The Teds are consummate hosts, and it is a true treat to be under their care. With doors ajar, Watson likens the feeling to a clubhouse. The zinc-topped table stays outdoors from late spring through fall. “We are happiest when we can dine outside,” he says.
Here are some excerpts from more of our conversation:
JD: The house has a political history and your middle name is Kennedy. Seems like decorating with red, white, and blue was pretty much unavoidable.
TKW: We actually thought of it the minute we saw the red house. It was the red that it is now, and it had a very preppy, East Coast vibe to it which we love.
JD: What about the deck? What’d that look like?
TKW: The deck was green. It seemed like a Christmas house. Not good. So we painted it red to match the house.
JD: How do you maintain it?
TKW: We power-wash it every spring.*
TKW: We completely gutted things, cleaned it all up, and just did stuff that made it so much more livable. We added the bank of French doors, moved the bathroom, and put in pine floors.
JD: What was the floor like before?
TKW: Pretty ghastly peel and stick vinyl.
JD: Did you paint it right away?
TKW: No. We left it exposed for a year and then we just knew that it needed to be white.
JD: Easy to maintain?
TKW: Well, we repainted 5 years ago. This time we used a more durable pant. And we wash it with vinegar and water.
JD: How did the stenciled word idea come about?
TKW: The stencils reminded us of the words on the ferry boat we take to get to the island and the words themselves are taken from “Sudden Light” by Gabriel Dante Rossetti — a poem we both love. We picked the cardboard letter stencils up at a hardware store.
JD. How does it feel waking up here in the morning?
TKW: The sound of the water. The sound of the birds. It is just amazingly peaceful and über private. Like we have been transported to another time.
* A little bit about DECK MAINTENANCE…
According to John Shearer at Shearer Painting, it’s important to maintain wood and color on a deck with the right product. He says that Ted is doing the right thing by washing his deck at least once a year. In instances of extreme exposure, John says that re-coating the substrate may also be an annual necessity. John does like the Arborcoat system. From the photos, Chris Connelly, Director of Product Management at Benjamin Moore says that Ted’s deck could benefit from semi-solid stain and the benches with an opaque one.
All images unless noted otherwise were shot by Jane Dagmi.