Enter Derek Lam’s Minimalist Fire Island Beach House

Looking at fashion designer Derek Lam’s waterfront home, one doesn’t immediately think of sipping sake.

But that was the key to the inspiration he shared with architect and interior designer Neil Bexted as they began working on this project together. Of course, Derek Lamm was Derek Lamm – the womenswear star known for combining elegant simplicity with exquisite detailing – that wasn’t just a reason.

“At first, I told Neil that my favorite drink was like this [the New York City restaurant] An omen that they serve in a cedar box. It’s quite simple, and it has that lovely cedar scent when you drink it,” Lam recalls. “I said, Neil, I just want to live inside that box of tea.”

Ask and it will take.

Now, Lam lives in the Cedar Dream Box. Together with his husband, Jean Hendrik Schlotmann, founder of Italian fashion brand Callas Milano, and their Irish terrier Roscoe, he made the most of the home’s quiet and simple 2,000 square feet space – all considerably more comfortable and cozy thanks to perhaps the thoughtful use of Bextedt. Carefully crafted for warm, natural materials and sculptural finishes.

“Derek always comes to the table with a few organized pictures,” Beckstedt says. Lamm initially commissioned the design for Russell Groves’ office, with Bextedt working in-house as its lead designer. He then continued to lead the project after he branched out on his own and founded his namesake company. “In this case,” Bextedt continues on Lamm, “he came up with pictures of some very modern, minimalist, wood-driven homes.”

These contact stones fit the spot with T. Lam and Schlottmann buying a home amid the leafy sand dunes of Fire Island’s Pines neighborhood, New York’s LGBTQ+ summer enclave, car-free and full of wildlife. It is also home to one of the most impressive collections of modern wood-clad dwellings in the country. And the couple bought not just any home, but a house designed by century master Horace Gifford, the architect behind some of the best buildings in the area.

Thanks to Gifford’s proportions and strong H-height – defined by tall vertical volumes flanking a lower center wing – the home had a lot to recommend. But it also posed significant challenges. It was small, originally designed as a one bedroom bungalow for a larger house next door. Everything was on the verge of collapse.

However, “the moment we walked into the house, before I even knew it was Horace Gifford, I sort of remember falling in love with form and compactness, and the thinking of space,” says Lamm. “The look was really captivating, and the look is beautiful. I felt like there was something about it that wasn’t your typical beach house. It was designed with something in mind and a beautiful structure.”

Beckstedt’s redesign became, then, to honor that original intent while also expanding on it, both literally and figuratively. The house grew in size, but almost imperceptibly—”I was really interacting with Gifford’s architecture,” says the designer—so it was sitting gently on its plot.

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