DESPITE her rising X Factor fame, Fleur East found it wasn’t easy to get on the London property ladder.
Part of generation rent, thanks to the out-of-control housing market in the capital, she’d been renting with her boyfriend, Marcel, in Limehouse for years.
‘Every year, the landlord put the rent up,’ she says. ‘One day, we added up all the money we’d spent on rent — it was disgusting. I had to erase that number from my mind.
‘People in the music industry were saying, “Fleur, you have to buy something.” I was coming up to 30 and felt buying a place was something I had to tick off the list.’
Fleur wanted to stay in Limehouse, but couldn’t find anything suitable that was affordable. ‘I was looking at flats the size of a box that cost £700,000, with no outside space or parking.’
One day the estate agent suggested a new-build development in Walthamstow, where the singer grew up. She ended up buying a four-bedroom house, with garden and parking space. ‘It was perfect, plus all my family are here.’
Walthamstow Village is now awash with trendy bars and restaurants, suggesting the long-awaited gentrification has arrived. ‘And we’ve even got a Nando’s and an Empire cinema — there wasn’t any of that when I was growing up,’ she laughs.
Fleur’s dad lives nearby and helped with some of the building work when the couple first moved in, turning a small bedroom into Fleur’s dressing room. It’s now home to some shoes and jackets (pictured) she wore on X Factor where she was runner-up in the 2014 series.
But she admits she found going from tenant to homeowner a bit of an adjustment. ‘It took some getting used to,’ says Fleur. ‘I’d think, we can’t paint that! Then remember we can, because we own it.
‘We’d rented an all-white flat for so long we went a bit crazy.’
An eye-catching addition is the Martin Luther King quote, ‘Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase’, which she had painted on the stairs (pictured below).
Fleur’s favourite room in the house is the cinema room, with its colourful artwork and neat arrangement of popcorn dispensers on the wall. She spends a lot of time there with friends watching films.
‘I wanted beanbags and my boyfriend wanted a couch — and we found this in a shop in Shoreditch — beanbags in the shape of a sofa!’
‘The room was originally going to be a gym — I was going to put exercise equipment in there — but I don’t need to since now I’ve invented my portable home gym.’
Enterprising Fleur and her cousins have created the W8 Gym — a collection of equipment including dumbbells and resistance bands in a neat box that can double as a kettlebell. She is planning to sell them to hotel chains: ‘They’re ideal for people to use in their rooms,’ she says.
There are also the striking paintings on the cinema room walls, done by artists who exhibit at Marcel’s clothes shop in Shoreditch. ‘The theme was love and connection. We added a varnish on to it and put some quotes on the walls.
‘I’m all about doing things on a budget,’ Fleur, who bought her shabby chic dining table on website Preloved, adds. ‘I got some great tips from interior designers I follow on Instagram.’
But she deviated from her budget when it came to buying her sofa, which she ordered from Loaf. ‘My friends said you spend a long time sitting on a sofa and should see it as an investment.’
As well as building her fitness empire and renovating her new home, the singer is making a pop comeback.
After splitting from Simon Cowell’s record label, Syco, last year, she’s planning to release new material with an independent company in the autumn.
‘I’ve had so much fun decorating this house — I’ve really caught the interior design bug,’ she says. ‘But it’s time to get back to my music, and after two years of not releasing anything, I’m coming back with a bang!’
■ Fleur East has just launched the W8 GYM, w8gym.com
Get the look: Fleur’s state of the art cinema room
This modular beanbag sofa will accommodate the whole crew when you turn down the lights to a watch a film. It’s so comfy, you might have problems getting them to leave. £899, ambientlounge.co.uk
Having a crack
Crack Fleur’s urban graffiti code with a sticker of a fracture running down your wall. Place it behind a piece of art — or on the ceiling so it looks like your light is hanging through the crack itself. £18.81, etsy.com
This sumptuous shagpile rug feels great underfoot, and is easy to clean if you spill your milkshake. Comes in various colours and sizes to suit the size of your room and pocket. £49.99 — £154.95, modern-rugs.co.uk
If you don’t have artist friends like Fleur, then create your own abstract art. Lay masking tape on the wall in different shapes, then paint to match your décor. Remove the tape for perfectly straight lines. Try Saffron vinyl paint from Wickes. It’s waterproof, so won’t smudge or wash off. 2.5L for £12. Or get a tester made up to cover a smaller area, wickes.co.uk
Treats on tap
Popcorn … tick. Pick ‘n’ Mix … tick. Check out these retro dry dispensers — fill with your favourite treats and you will never go hungry on movie night. £199.99, cfw.co.uk