Kim Wilde admits that she either decorated her first home ‘fantastically right or horribly wrong’

Kim Wilde was the voice of rebellious youth in the 1980s. But at home in her first flat that she bought at the age of 23, her style was far more restrained and traditional – apart from some interesting colour choices. Kim is embarking on her Greatest Hits tour later this year across the UK and then plans to head on tour in Europe. Here, she spills about her property history, and all her major highs and lows.

When did you buy your first home?
I’m going to count my first home as the one I’m in now although I lived in London during the 1980s in a two-bed flat I bought and did up near Abbey Road. But I was never there.

Why did you choose that area?
I just got signed to RAK Records, situated within a stones throw of the apartment. I’d enjoyed overwhelming success with Kids In America. For the first time in my life I had money in the bank – I was 23 at the time – and I was desperate to live an independent life and leave home. It was the first place I lived away from home.

What did you do with the place?
I went straight to Conran and bought some lovely huge sofas and I started to discover what my own personal style was, which is pretty traditional in many ways. I went for a traditional-looking kitchen with cream cupboards and marble tops. It wasn’t particularly funky, it was quite old fashioned.
I loved the age of the apartment; it had original green and black bathroom tiles. I decorated it in the style that the apartment was built in, which was quite art deco. I would buy art deco lampshades at antiques markets.

Were people surprised your home style was traditional?
I was really into just developing the building in sympathy with its age really. I fell in love with the look of it. I found antiques from various places in London. I started to find out who I was – right in the middle of the apartment there was a big poster of Grace Jones – I discovered my eclectic aesthetic which I still have.
I love mixing old stuff with new stuff. There was a lot of different colours, which in retrospect was awful, a bedroom in midnight turquoise and a hallway in orange. I either got it completely fantastically right or horribly wrong. I imagine anyone who moved in thought ‘what is going on here?’ But it was great starter pad.

Did you create much music there?
My second bedroom became my writing studio. I left home on a mission to be songwriter and I set up a mixer and a keyboard. [The flat] had a big influence on my career and I upset the neighbours a lot, too. It was the beginning of me becoming a musician rather than just being someone on Top Of The Pops.

Where did you find your first ‘home’?
In 1989 the big love affair happened. I had lived in London for six or seven years and London was a place where my suitcase would rarely get unpacked. By that time I realised I wanted to be around my family and felt quite isolated in London and not at home there. I was a country girl stuck in an urban situation.
We were recording the Close album and I decided to go house hunting near the studio in Knebworth. I got sent some info on some barns that could become homes. I thought that could be great for me and thought ‘I’ll go and have a look at this barn.’ It was one of two in a small village a few miles from rest of my family.

So was it just a barn at this point?
The barn had never been lived in apart from by small animals. I fell in love and thought this is where I belong. I didn’t want to change it too much. An architect drew up plans and builders started and I was travelling while the house was being built.
It was taken down to its skeleton. It had started to lean and they got a great big crane in and attached it to the heavier beams and pulled it upright. I moved in on my birthday in 1990. I was 30.

How did it feel to have such a big, grown-up house?
It was a bit overwhelming at first. When the builders left and the party was over for my 30th I was standing alone in this big hall I was hit hard that I was there on my own. I had mixed feelings about being alone and single in this big place. But I knew it was the right place.

What did you do with it?
Amazing adventures unfolded. I was bought up to trust my instincts. I bought a book by Kevin McCloud and started distressing the kitchen more – the plaster was brand new and I painted murals on the walls. I started to make it arts and crafty in a way without realising.
From a design point of view there are few rooms, the main carcass remains – it’s like being in a village hall. The most profound change was focusing on the outside and becoming a gardener. For me the garden is the house, the outdoor rooms.

You are going on tour – does it feel strange to leave your dream home behind?
I’m taking the tour to Germany and Holland and Sweden and my family will keep the home fires burning. It’s part of my lifestyle to get on a plane, go to a dressing room, do a show and play live – I’ve never loved it more.
Lockdown helped me to realise how much I love my career. But the best thing is coming home, it’s an amazing feeling. I’m still just as much in love with this place now as I was the first day I moved in.