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Four friends buy mansion in Sri Lanka for £315,000 and revamp it to create ultimate holiday home 

Four friends bought a crumbling 100-year-old mansion in Sri Lanka for £315,000 and have spent four years transforming it into a luxury villa.

When the property caught the attention of interior designer Dean Sharpe in 2010 there was a tree growing through the roof, bats living in the rafters, termites eating the plaster and tiles falling off the kitchen walls.

What sounds like a restoration nightmare for many did not stop Sharpe, his partner Bentley de Beyer and friends Jenny Lewis and Richard Bleasdale from purchasing the mansion and two surrounding acres in 2011.

Four pals bought a crumbling 100-year-old mansion in Sri Lanka for £315,000 and have spent four years transforming it into a luxury villa

When the property caught the attention of interior designer Dean Sharpe in 2010 there was a tree growing through the roof, bats living in the rafters, termites eating the plaster and tiles falling off the kitchen walls

When the property caught the attention of interior designer Dean Sharpe in 2010 there was a tree growing through the roof, bats living in the rafters, termites eating the plaster and tiles falling off the kitchen walls

‘It was a ruin of what it once was but we walked in and fell in love with it,’ Sharpe told Insider.

Named Halala Kanda – and known locally as Firefly Hill – it is located on a Sri Lankan hillside near the town Weligama.

The mansion was built in 1912 by the son of a wealthy plantation owner trying to woo his bride.

Renovations began in December 2012 – a century after the mansion was first constructed.

Named Halala Kanda ¿ and known locally as Firefly Hill ¿ the mansion is located on a Sri Lankan hillside near the town Weligama

Named Halala Kanda – and known locally as Firefly Hill – the mansion is located on a Sri Lankan hillside near the town Weligama

Renovations began in December 2012, a century after the mansion was first constructed

Renovations began in December 2012, a century after the mansion was first constructed

Sharpe and his three friends Jenny Lewis, Richard Bleasdale and Bentley de Beyer purchased the mansion and two surrounding acres in 2011. ¿It was a ruin of what it once was but we walked in and fell in love with it,¿ Sharpe said

Sharpe and his three friends Jenny Lewis, Richard Bleasdale and Bentley de Beyer purchased the mansion and two surrounding acres in 2011. ‘It was a ruin of what it once was but we walked in and fell in love with it,’ Sharpe said

Demolition took four months to complete and there were pressures to move fast to get tarpaulin on the roof to protect the property from monsoon season

Halala Kanda was in livable condition by 2014 equipped with air conditioning, plumbing and electrical

Demolition took four months to complete and there were pressures to move fast to get tarpaulin on the roof to protect the property from monsoon season. Halala Kanda was in livable condition by 2014 equipped with air conditioning, plumbing and electrical

Demolition took four months to complete and there were pressures to move fast to get tarpaulin on the roof to protect the property from monsoon season.

Two years later in 2014, Halala Kanda was in livable condition equipped with air conditioning, plumbing and electrical.

Before, the mansion’s only water source was a well in the garden. 

The Halala Kanda owners and restoration team (from left to right): Bentley de Beyer, Dean Sharpe, Richard Bleasdale, Jenny Lewis

The Halala Kanda owners and restoration team (from left to right): Bentley de Beyer, Dean Sharpe, Richard Bleasdale, Jenny Lewis

Before the renovation the mansion¿s only water source was a well in the garden

Before the renovation the mansion’s only water source was a well in the garden

Sharpe and his three friends wanted the mansion ¿to look as authentic as possible but didn¿t want to create a pastiche of what went before¿

Sharpe and his three friends wanted the mansion ‘to look as authentic as possible but didn’t want to create a pastiche of what went before’

‘We didn’t do a big bonfire and burn everything,’ Sharpe said.

Instead the friends considered every piece of the home before scrapping it. ‘Each window frame and roof joist was carefully removed and stacked,’ he added.

The friends wanted the mansion ‘to look as authentic as possible but didn’t want to create a pastiche of what went before’.

Sharpe was tasked with designing the villa, which wraps around an open-air courtyard.

He commissioned architect Ross Logie to help bring his visions to life.

Sharpe was tasked with designing the villa, which wraps around an open-air courtyard. He commissioned architect Ross Logie to help bring his visions to life

Sharpe was tasked with designing the villa, which wraps around an open-air courtyard. He commissioned architect Ross Logie to help bring his visions to life

¿We didn¿t do a big bonfire and burn everything,¿ Sharpe said. Instead he and his friends considered every piece of the home before scrapping it

‘We didn’t do a big bonfire and burn everything,’ Sharpe said. Instead he and his friends considered every piece of the home before scrapping it

Logie and Sharpe added some modern twists including a corrugated iron roof to reflect the heat and give the house a contemporary look. Logie made the internal rooms more appealing to future houseguests by creating sight lines that gave every room a view of the jungle

Logie and Sharpe added some modern twists including a corrugated iron roof to reflect the heat and give the house a contemporary look. Logie made the internal rooms more appealing to future houseguests by creating sight lines that gave every room a view of the jungle

The four friends considered every piece of the home before scrapping it. ¿Each window frame and roof joist was carefully removed and stacked,¿ Sharpe said

The four friends considered every piece of the home before scrapping it. ‘Each window frame and roof joist was carefully removed and stacked,’ Sharpe said

Sharpe declined to share how much was spent on the renovation.

Logie and Sharpe added some modern twists including a corrugated iron roof to reflect the heat and give the house a contemporary look.

A plus – the tiles protected the roof ‘as it’s a bit of a monkey freeway,’ Sharpe said.

Logie made the internal rooms more appealing to future houseguests by creating sight lines that gave every room a view of the jungle.

He also installed a 23-metre-long saltwater pool, a decorative folly and staff quarters.

Logie installed a 23-metre-long saltwater pool, a decorative folly and staff quarters. New Zealand TV host Jaala Dyer  described the property as ¿architecturally interesting and luxurious without being clinical and stark¿

Logie installed a 23-metre-long saltwater pool, a decorative folly and staff quarters. New Zealand TV host Jaala Dyer  described the property as ‘architecturally interesting and luxurious without being clinical and stark’

Pastel-colored walls from the 1950s were replaced with a monochromatic color scheme. Sharpe left the wooden rafters as they were, choosing not to paint them so the artistry could be left on display

Pastel-colored walls from the 1950s were replaced with a monochromatic color scheme. Sharpe left the wooden rafters as they were, choosing not to paint them so the artistry could be left on display

Sharpe and his friends want to continue working on the house even though there have already ¿been lots of wonderful little moments,¿ Sharpe said. They have plans to make other changes and to create a new family suite

Sharpe and his friends want to continue working on the house even though there have already ‘been lots of wonderful little moments,’ Sharpe said. They have plans to make other changes and to create a new family suite

Pastel-colored walls from the 1950s were replaced with a monochromatic color scheme. Sharpe left the wooden rafters as they were, choosing not to paint them so the artistry could be left on display.

Décor consisted of curios made by local artisans Sharpe found while scouring the Sri Lankan countryside.

Sharpe said of the Room Of Curiosities, the area located off the entrance: ‘It features buys we’ve collected and items that people have left for us. The idea is that it gets added to.’

Antiques he has collected include a hexagonal wood table adorned with tropical woods found in Sri Lanka, a chess set, street puppets and a wide selection of books.

Décor consisted of antiques made by local artisans Sharpe found while scouring the Sri Lankan countryside. He has collected curios such as a hexagonal wood table adorned with tropical woods, a chess set, street puppets and a wide selection of books

Décor consisted of antiques made by local artisans Sharpe found while scouring the Sri Lankan countryside. He has collected curios such as a hexagonal wood table adorned with tropical woods, a chess set, street puppets and a wide selection of books

The Room Of Curiosities is Sharpe¿s favorite place in the house. It's located off the entrance and 'features buys we¿ve collected and items that people have left for us. The idea is that it gets added to,' he said

The Room Of Curiosities is Sharpe’s favorite place in the house. It’s located off the entrance and ‘features buys we’ve collected and items that people have left for us. The idea is that it gets added to,’ he said

The Room Of Curiosities is Sharpe’s favorite place in the house. ‘I like to sit and read or listen to music and hear the buzz of the house – from the people in the pool to the clatter in the kitchen,’ he said.

When cutting back the jungle undergrowth Sharpe said: ‘It was like we’d discovered a secret garden.’

The friends found a cashew grove, mango orchard and coconut trees. They planted coffee and tea bushes, pineapple and citrus groves, and pepper and cinnamon vines

Logie said the biggest challenge was making sure the mansion’s authentic qualities weren’t lost through renovations.

Sharpe said of the Room Of Curiosities, the area located off the entrance: ¿It features buys we¿ve collected and items that people have left for us. The idea is that it gets added to.¿

Sharpe said of the Room Of Curiosities, the area located off the entrance: ‘It features buys we’ve collected and items that people have left for us. The idea is that it gets added to.’

Logie said the biggest challenge was making sure the mansion¿s authentic qualities weren¿t lost through renovations. He said: ¿I think we achieved this goal by matching the spirit of the existing villa with harmonious yet contemporary additions'

Logie said the biggest challenge was making sure the mansion’s authentic qualities weren’t lost through renovations. He said: ‘I think we achieved this goal by matching the spirit of the existing villa with harmonious yet contemporary additions’ 

He said: ‘I think we achieved this goal by matching the spirit of the existing villa with harmonious yet contemporary additions. For example the swimming pool and pool pavilion are clearly designed for modern living yet the pool pavilion shares a fluid style of early-20th-century art-nouveau.’

The property is fully staffed with a manager, chef, two service staff, two gardeners and a security guard.

Up to 12 holidayers can rent the five-bedroom five-bathroom mansion for £1,000 per night.

In its earlier glory days a century ago the mansion played host to guests such as Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie and the Australian cricket legend Keith Miller.

The property is fully staffed with a manager, chef, two service staff, two gardeners and a security guard. Up to 12 holidayers can now rent the five-bedroom five-bathroom mansion for £1,000 per night

The property is fully staffed with a manager, chef, two service staff, two gardeners and a security guard. Up to 12 holidayers can now rent the five-bedroom five-bathroom mansion for £1,000 per night

At its post-renovation peak guests have included New Zealand TV host Jaala Dyer

At its post-renovation peak guests have included New Zealand TV host Jaala Dyer

At its post-renovation peak guests have included New Zealand TV host Jaala Dyer.

Dyer described the property as ‘architecturally interesting and luxurious without being clinical and stark’.

Sharpe and his friends want to continue working on the house even though there have already ‘been lots of wonderful little moments,’ Sharpe said, including de Beyer’s 40th birthday party.

They have plans to make other changes and to create a new family suite.

The mansion was built in 1912 by the son of a wealthy plantation owner trying to woo his bride

The mansion was built in 1912 by the son of a wealthy plantation owner trying to woo his bride

In its earlier glory days a century ago the mansion played host to guests such as Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie and the Australian cricket legend Keith Miller (pictured)

In its earlier glory days a century ago the mansion played host to guests such as Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie and the Australian cricket legend Keith Miller (pictured)

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk