Step Inside a Historic Shelter Island Summer Cottage That Brims With Personal Touches

A vintage nautical flag and framed 1950s map of Shelter Island hang in the main bedroom, where a pair of 1970s lucite-and-burlwood end tables by John Stuart flank a Case Study bed by Modernica; the quilt is by Cold Picnic from Coming Soon.

Every summer since has been a new push—replacing the roof, repainting the house and its adjacent garage, creating a basement ceramics studio for Haskell, and updating the kitchen, which had been painted in Ronald McDonald shades of yellow and red. Along the way, Arboleda has deftly layered the rooms with an array of vintage finds, many of them auction purchases or treasures discovered at Long Island tag sales and thrift stores. “I like things that have a sense of humor and playfulness, but I also like architectural rigor and old rattan, and I like combining all that with a Colombian carpet or Stilnovo sconces,” notes Arboleda. “The house accepts it all. You can bring in a lot of things from different eras.” It’s an ease, of course, that only comes with expertise. Notes Haskell, very much in awe of his other half, “there is a lot of talent in being able to pull all that together in a way that is inviting and not chaotic.”

There are also stories to every piece and Arboleda, a connoisseur with a flourish for detail and an appetite for the obscure, delights in telling them. The cantilevered bedside tables in both guest rooms, he notes, had been designed for an Italian ocean liner. “Somehow I found this website that, for just a flash, had all these salvaged antiques from boats of the 20th century, the carcasses of these glorious ships,” he recalls. “They were rescued out of oblivion.” That yellow injection-molded plastic chair—originally created by Marc Newson for the Paris outpost of Walter Van Beirendonck’s WL&T concept store, was a gift from the couple’s longtime friend Paul Donzella, whose namesake gallery now represents Haskell. And all those woven baskets are one-of-a-kind souvenirs that Arboleda brought back from his many trips to Colombia, where he grew up. As he puts it: “It’s about obsessing and collecting no matter how uncomfortable the flight.”

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The final push, still ongoing, has been the landscape, a true collaboration for the couple. A retaining wall of stacked rocks (what Haskell calls “the simplest thing possible”) now frames a sunken pea-gravel garden, with an array of succulents and potted plants in a constrained green palette. Planters have become a new shared obsession—in particular, 1960s finds from California and the cement designs of Willy Guhl. This growing assortment complements the vintage furnishings and Colombian hammocks that, every weekend, cradle happy guests, a rotating cast of inner-circle friends who don’t sweat the house’s paper-thin walls and lack of AC. Says Haskell, “The summer camp feel is magical for some people and off-putting for others.”

For Haskell, the word house doesn’t even do the place justice. “A house can house you more functionally than what this home does. It was really only built for half the year—it’s not trying to do anything more than that,” he says. Every winter is a natural recognition that the place must shut down. And though the toothpaste may freeze, everything is right where he and Arboleda left it come spring, the rooms having thawed, just as they have for 150 years.

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