■ The Fizz star Cheryl Baker says swapping her Bethnal Green council flat for a three-bed semi was a dream come true
CHERYL BAKER, 64, shot to fame in 1981 as part of the Eurovision-winning pop group Bucks Fizz. After a bit of a reshuffle — Bobby G has been replaced with Bobby McVey — they are now called The Fizz. Cheryl and pals can be seen performing their hits at retro summer festivals.
What was the first property you bought?
It was a four-bedroom, semi-detached house in Basildon — I bought it for my parents in 1983. Six months later, I bought my first house for myself — a three-bedroom, semi-detached chalet bungalow in Eltham. It was really pretty — it had a beautiful garden and was surrounded by roses. I painted it pink. I was born in a council flat in Bethnal Green and I was still living there with my parents when Bucks Fizz won Eurovision. I bought my house because I’d lived in a flat my whole life. I still remember the first morning I woke up in my house and walked out into my own garden — it meant the world. I’d never had a garden before. I vowed then I’d never live in a flat again and I never have.
You turned down the chance to buy your parents’ council flat…
Yes, when we were about to move out, we were offered the chance to buy it for £11,000. We said no. It’s now worth £500,000. You live and learn. No one knew Bethnal Green would become fashionable one day. Look at Shoreditch — when I was growing up it was the place all the drunks went.
Why did you buy a holiday home in Cape Verde?
I bought it just before the financial crash — I thought it would go up in value, but quite soon afterwards it was worth half the amount I paid for it. I’m hanging onto it, hoping it will eventually go up in value. I signed on the dotted line just before the bottom fell out of the worldwide property market.
Would you advise other people to buy overseas?
I thought Cape Verde was the next big thing, and it will be. The infrastructure is all being put in place, I just bought at the wrong time. If you’re happy going to the same place every time you go on holiday, then do it. But, on the other hand, I could have spent the amount it cost on an awful lot of holidays anywhere.
What’s the biggest renovation you’ve done?
We built a house in Kent. We’d bought a house that was a bit dismal but the grounds were fabulous. It had a three-acre garden and orchards. We gutted the original house and turned it into an annexe for my husband’s parents and built a new seven-bed house next to it. It had the kitchen I’d always wanted — a big island, a larder… the kitchen of your dreams if you’d grown up in a council flat with a tiny little kitchen. We had a patio and a herb garden and we built a tennis court. It was wonderful.
What were the biggest challenges?
We were on holiday and the builders had dug the footings for garages right next to the kitchen. I came home and said, ‘Absolutely not, the garages are not here. I don’t want the cars next to the kitchen. I want to walk out of my kitchen into the herb garden. I want it all tranquil.’ It cost us money but they did it all again. We had a massive driveway. It was like a hotel driveway — with a roundabout.
Where are you now?
We downsized slightly when my husband’s parents passed away. Again, we’ve got an orchard and we look out over the Kent countryside. It’s lovely.
How would you describe your interiors taste?
I like a lot of light and colour. I was a bit of a hippie in the 1970s so my taste is like that. I’m comfortable — I’m not modern and minimalist. I love having photos up and remembering happy times. I’ve turned the guest loo into a gallery of friends and family. I’ve put the gold discs up in the dining room so people see them when we have a dinner party.
What would be a dream home?
I’m quite happy where I am. I’m a very content person. If people ask if my glass is half full or half empty, I say it’s overflowing. I’m lucky.
■ The Fizz perform at Rewind North, August 3-5, rewindfestival.com
All about… Bethnal Green
BETHNAL Green is in the London borough of Tower Hamlets — it can trace its name back to Anglo Saxon times and underwent a population explosion in the 19th century.
The area was heavily bombed in World War II and a monument was unveiled last year to the 173 people who were crushed to death at Bethnal Green Underground station in 1943 during an air raid. Like many areas of east London, Bethnal Green has undergone gentrification and its transport links make it an attractive area for commuters.
The majority of sales during the last year were flats, selling for £511,061 on average. Terraced properties sold for an average of £888,719, with detached properties fetching £1.14million. Overall sold prices in Bethnal Green over the last year were 14 per cent up on 2015, rightmove.co.uk