WHEN ex-boy band star Ben Adams’s neighbours started a petition to evict his pint-sized pooch from his home, he decided it was time to find somewhere else to live.
That was four years ago when Ben, now 36, sold his two-bedroom mansion block flat in Battersea and bought his current mews house in Clapham, moving in with miniature Yorkshire terrier Mr T.
‘I was the only person who owned their own flat there, everyone else was renting, but as it was leasehold I still had to adhere to some of the rules. I’d had Mr T for four years when they suddenly told me to get rid of him — so I don’t know what the problem was. I thought it was ridiculous, so I moved out.’
Ben, who found fame with chart-toppers a1, looked at a couple of properties in Clapham, which he says he prefers to Battersea as it’s more lively. And he noticed his current home was on the market for £100,000 less than a similar neighbouring house also on sale — perhaps due to some unusual interior decor choices.
‘The whole place was painted completely black, with murals on the walls, and the downstairs toilet looked like something out of a sex dungeon,’ he explains.
But Ben saw potential in the house — particularly its bright and airy double-height dining room with floor-to-ceiling windows and a mezzanine living room — and went ahead with the purchase. And when he was quoted £200,000 to cover an overhaul of the property, he decided to do the work himself.
The biggest jobs were changing an en suite bathroom into a dressing room, turning one of the bedrooms into a recording studio with vocal booth, rewiring the whole place and replacing the flooring.
Ben taught himself how to do the work by watching instructional videos on YouTube. ‘There’s always some idiot on there who is thicker than you are who you can copy,’ says Ben.
‘My plan was to do it all myself and then get someone in to fix things if I made any mistakes.’ He took three months off producing music to complete the work. But Ben, who has worked with stars including Sam Bailey and Craig David, did get some help from his girlfriend’s father when it came to doing the flooring.
He says: ‘He’d had some experience doing it before. We put whitewashed oak in throughout. It was a big sense of achievement when we finished it.’
The biggest setback came when Ben put a nail through a pipe under the floor. ‘The underfloor heating was already here but I didn’t know where the pipes were. I had to get someone in to fix it and it was quite expensive,’ he recalls. He plastered all the walls himself, chasing the wiring from his speakers and TVs into the walls for a neat finish, and he also put in a cinema projection screen which lowers down from the ceiling in his lounge. His latest gadget is a VR headset he bought at Christmas. ‘I’m playing Doom at the moment and Resident Evil is very scary,’ he says. ‘It’s been a good investment.’
Ben wanted the back wall of the house to resemble exposed brick — and found an innovative way of achieving the look. ‘It’s a plaster mould of a 16th century church,’ he says. ‘I found out it’s made in sheets — they use it in a lot of Hollywood movies. I went to Shepperton studios where they were filming Beauty And The Beast and bought enough to do the whole wall — the guy did me a favour as they don’t normally sell it to the public. Then I painted it all white — you wouldn’t know it wasn’t brick.’
Ben painted the whole house white, with some of the rooms, including the studio, getting floor-to-ceiling internal windows, to maximise light. The furniture is also white, including Ben’s Eames chairs, his living room sofa, and his digital mini grand piano.
He wrote the first song for his musical Eugenius! — which is currently showing at London’s Other Palace theatre — at the piano after a trip to a local pub.
He then recorded all the music for the show upstairs in his studio, which is lined with gold and silver discs and a Best British Newcomer Brit award from 2001 from his time with a1.
Finishing touches include eight large mirrors from a shop in Fulham and a collection of metal and ceramic animal skulls which his girlfriend, Sara, finds ‘a bit morbid’.
After putting so much work into the house, Ben doesn’t see himself selling it. ‘I never felt my last flat was my own because I moved in there when I was 16 and bought things along the way — so it was a big of a mish-mash.
‘With this I started from scratch and did it all myself. I’ll always want to keep it.’
But Ben, whose girlfriend is a former Miss Norway, says he is considering buying a flat in Oslo, saying. ‘Everything in Norway is more expensive apart from property, which is equivalent to what you’d pay here. Oslo’s a nice place.’
Ben’s new home also has the added bonus that Mr T no longer has any problems with the neighbours.
■ Eugenius! runs at London’s Other Palace theatre until March 3, eugeniusthemusical.com