In 1921, Ede got a job as assistant curator at the Tate Gallery in London whilst continuing to study part time at the Slade. Shortly after he married Helen Schlapp who he had met in Edinburgh. Whilst working at the Tate, he tried to promote the work of the contemporary artists of the day, including artists such as Picasso and Mondrian. However, he was more often thwarted by the more conservative attitudes of the gallery directors. During his time at the Tate, Ede formed numerous friendships with avant-garde artists of the day. In the process, he acquired many works of art that were largely under appreciated at the time. In particular he secured much of the work of Henri Gaudier-Brzeska from the estate of Sophie Brzeska.
In 1936, Ede tired of fighting the establishment at the Tate and left to live in Morocco, building a house outside Tangiers. Somewhat ahead of his time, he adopted a minimalist style of interior design advocating plain white-washed walls and the minimum of furniture required to complete a room. For the next twenty years, he led an itinerant life, writing, broadcasting and lecturing in Europe and America, whilst keeping the house in Morocco as a base.
Returning to England in 1956, Ede converted four cottages in Cambridge as a place to live and display his art collection. It was part of his philosophy that art should be shared in a relaxed environment; to this end he would hold 'open house', giving personal tours of the collection to students from the University of Cambridge over afternoon tea. Students could also borrow paintings from his collection to hang in their rooms during term-time. In 1966, Ede gave the house and collection to the University, establishing Kettle's Yard art gallery.
Ede continued to live at Kettle's Yard until 1973, then moving to Edinburgh where he lived out his retirement.