Inner And Outer Beauty At Building Details

Luxury builder and landscaper Michael Derrig brings inspired design to Hamptons homes and gardens.
Poolside idyll at Village Retreat in East Hampton. Photo: Genevieve Garruppo

By Jim Servin

“Both landscape architecture and architecture are closely related. They need to speak to one another,” says Michael Derrig. The owner of Landscape Details and Building Details, the premier landscape and luxury construction firms in the Hamptons, has mastered the art of communication between majestic lawns, poetic gardens and spacious, confidently constructed homes. A well-built structure provides the perfect vantage point from which Derrig can experience what he calls “felt balance,” calming design bringing forth architectural strengths and thoughtfully curated residential flora.

“I built my first house when I moved out to the Hamptons 25 years ago,” says Derrig, charting his crossover journey from outdoors to indoors. “After completing landscape projects, clients started asking me to build for them. I’d eared their trust. As Landscape Details matured, I found I could spend more time focused on building custom homes. I had assembled such a talented team, I thought it was the right time to launch Building Details in 2018.”

Derrig favors clean lines, wood floors and stone fireplaces. Photo: Genevieve Garruppo

Today, at 103 Montauk Highway in East Hampton, Derrig cuts a casual, impactful figure in khaki shorts, sandals and a green hoodie with a Grateful Dead logo on the back as he leads a tour of the Building Details and Landscape Details headquarters, along with the home he’s renovating, his own, just behind it. 

In contrast to the beamed office, a serene, streamlined environment, the back lot is abuzz with activity. A fleet of workers are readying the 4,500-square-foot five-bedroom and surrounding yard—including an open pavilion with a fireplace and a zero-edge pool—for the wedding of Derrig’s 26-year-old daughter, Hanna, in October.

A modern Country house by Building Details. Photo: Genevieve Garruppo

Later, Derrig will drive out to other sites he’s working on: There’s the 100-year-old home on 11 acres, lined with mature copper beech, London plane and black walnut trees. “It was easy to put my touches on this,” he says, surveying the estate. “It was all there. When you come to a site that has constraints—grade changes, a poor roadway—you can transform those challenges into opportunities.”

Derrig’s design approach, an instinctive process he calls “vernacular, on the spot,” is in demand. “Somebody’s always coming out to the Hamptons to build their dream house, a place where they can relax,” he says. “A lot of the new people we meet are dedicated to wellness and health. I see a trend of focusing on the inside and outside: a spa, a really great gym, a place for a massage.”

Creating inner and outer beauty extends to his personal life. A longtime meditator, Derrig walks the beach every morning with his four dogs, listening to Calm or another app. 

His newly renovated home will be outfitted with wellness components such as a cold plunge pool, a massage area and an infrared sauna, all set against vegetation of some sort: loose, soft green material such as ferns and sweet woodruff.

“In my home and my office, I look at green everywhere,” Derrig says. “It creates a sense of calmness, serenity, cohesiveness and peace. A lot of people don’t live that way. I’m so grateful that it’s the way I get to live.”,