At Home in Sri Lanka

James Fennell, Tom Sykes

A stunning survey of both innovative and traditional Sri Lankan architecture as it engages with the region's extreme climate and intense beauty


A decade after the publication of Living in Sri Lanka, photographer James Fennell revisits the “Paradise Isle” in search of what makes a great Sri Lankan home. Traveling with writer Tom Sykes, he has visited numerous houses and taken thousands of photographs, as well as interviewing owners, interior decorators, architects, stylists, and designers. Collectively, the twenty-six exemplary properties showcased in this book capture the essence of elegant Sri Lankan living.

Sri Lanka is a place of geographic and cultural contrasts, qualities that are reflected in its extreme weather. The best Sri Lankan architecture is structurally versatile, using features such as overhanging roofs, slatted walls, and courtyards to cope with intense sunshine and sudden downpours in equal measure. Climatic factors also dominate the interiors of even the most luxurious homes: valuable antiques and art give way to simple pieces of furniture, batiks, prints, and artfully crafted cushions, with color or shadow used creatively to enliven expansive walls.

From the colonial grandeur of actress Gillian Anderson’s secluded retreat and the sumptuous Wallawwa hotel to works by the celebrated architects Geoffrey Bawa and Anjalendran, the structures illustrated here have all been built to respond to the unpredictable natural environment, seamlessly blending indoor and outdoor living.


The resulting architecture and interiors are remarkable, judging by this attractive book

— Interior Design


James Fennell


James Fennel‘s previous books include Vanishing Ireland and The Irish Pub. He is one of Ireland’s leading photographers, and his work has been featured in Vogue Living, House & Garden, The Financial Times, and The Irish Times.

Tom Sykes

Text By

Tom Sykes is a writer and journalist, and he edits The Royalist blog for The Daily Beast. His previous books include Blow by Blow: The Story of Isabella Blow and Sina Sana: Travels in Malaysia.