Island living with Sandy Lamu


An idyllic island located on the eastern coast of Kenya named Lamu is home to one of our favourite island interior inspirations Sandy Bornman (@sandylamu). After living in Zambia for some years, Sandy visited Lamu together with her two daughters, and basically never left. We share with you her island way of living, design principles and must visits on Lamu island.


Lamu Island, Kenya

Lamu is an idyllic island located on the eastern coast of Kenya, in the Indian Ocean. An island with white sandy beaches, turquoise sea and Arabic & Swahili influences. A quiet island full of history and handcrafted elements where its main transportation is simply by feet, donkey or a traditional dhow sailing boat.


What was your story behind moving to Lamu Island? 
I was living in Mfuwe, near the Luangwa National Park in Zambia when
the father of my two girls and I parted ways. I decided to visit Kenya and
Lamu with my two daughters Jemima (4) and Ruby (2) for a recess but never left, 21 years ago.
How did you adapt to the slower island way of life?
Needless to say it was easy to adapt to the slower pace of life on the island
as we were living fairly remotely in Zambia where we reared an elephant
calf, Noah who had lost his mother in a flood and Jamu a leopard cub
who’s mother died in a poachers snare.



Could you tell us a little more about your boutique AMAN?
Aman started very small with my tailor Joseph and I creating a small
collection of cotton garments and selling them in the Peponi shop, a
popular family owned hotel on the island.
What were the design principles for your own home in Lamu?
Currently I am renting a lovely house with sea views and the owner
ensured that the house has a lot of light so it is open to the elements and
air to catch the breeze and the various winds during the seasons as the
island can get intensely hot and humid.
What is your favourite furniture piece and souvenir that is displayed in your home?
A set of the beaded black and white Nigerian Yoruba chairs hand made
with thousands of small beads. Each chair takes 3 months to make and is
an example of a functional piece of art.



What is your favourite Swahili design element you couldn't design without
Vidaka or niche. A wonderful Swahili tradition dating back to the 14 th
century made with cement and white lime carved into intricate shapes
and surrounded by detailed plasterwork embellishments.
What are the signature artisanal crafts in the area of Lamu? 
It would be intricately carved wooden doors, the magnificent designs of
the vidakas, wooden dhow sail boat building and basket weaving.
What are the must visit for architecture / interior lovers?
The Lamu Museum, Swahili House Museum, the Takwa Ruins and various
beautifully restored houses on the island.



What is up next for you? 
I have at last purchased land behind the dunes where we propose to plant
indigenous trees, palms, coconuts, fruit trees and being self sufficient with
a permaculture approach to land management, a natural pool and using
all the talented artisans on the island with their various skills to build a
home using coral bricks cut from a deposit of dead coral rock strata.
Follow along @sandylamu and her island way of living