Simon Doonan (right) and Jonathan Adler in their Shelter Island home

Take a look at the beautiful NY summer house where our new writer lives and works

Simon Doonan and husband Jonathan Adler have been in their Shelter Island summer house since March, and they just gave the NY Times a tour

It's what’s on the inside that counts. Just ask Simon Doonan. As the author, television personality and creative ambassador-at-large for the New York clothing store Barneys, explains in his new book, How to Be Yourself, “I vividly recall, back in the freewheeling ’70s, meeting some swashbuckling hottie at a disco and thinking, ‘Wow! What a happening dude!’ Then you get back to Mr. Hottie’s pad and spot the depressing café curtains framing the kitchen serving hatch and the beige Naugahyde recliner with the cigarette burns, and you immediately contemplate hanging yourself from those café curtains.”

What's more, this piteous situation is infinitely avoidable; as Doonan explains, “anyone can acquire an impressive decor. Just as with impressive clothing, money is not the deciding factor.” He goes on, “there are no pass/fails when it comes to decor. The only crime is nondecor, an Angie-style failure to utilize self-expression in your home. If not chez toi, then where?”

Certainly, no one would accuse Doonan and his husband, the potter and designer Jonathan Adler, of comitting that crime. Since March the couple have been living and working in their summer house out on Shelter Island, New York, between Long Island’s North and South Forks. It’s a beautiful contemporary home that Adler and Doonan commissioned from the architecture practice Gray Organschi in 2011, combining a Modernist mid-century feel with informal, Japanese aspects and poppy overtones.



As you can gather from this New York Times home tour, the decor includes creations by the couple themselves, as well as works by their friends, such as the painter John Paul Phillippe. The place isn’t show-home perfect, but it very much suits Doonan and Adler, who mistrust complete perfection, and prefer it when creatives live with the works that they make.

“It’s suspect to me when you see a designer and they’re not wearing their own stuff,” says Doonan, who works within the fashion industry. “It’s like, hang on, you want everybody else to buy it?”

That’s not the case with these two. There’s a beautiful concrete wall that Adler made in his studio; a George Washington etching that Doonan himself defaced, and, outside, some drift art that Doonan threw together in minutes.


How to Be Yourself
How to Be Yourself

Feel like living somewhere such as this? Then get all of Doonan’s interior design tips, as well as much more, in his new book, How to Be Yourself. Meanwhile, for more on the world’s most creative homes, take a look at Art Meets Life.


Art Meets Life
Art Meets Life