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Star People: Home star home; We are a nation obsessed with home improvements - and especially at this time of year. For most of us, though, it's a few hundred pounds on a splash of paint, but for the stars it's a few hundred thousand spent on the finer finishes to their already luxurious homes. GAVIN GREEN reports.

Byline: GAVIN GREEN

ROBBIE WILLIAMS

LOCATION: Notting Hill, London.

HOME IMPROVEMENTS: Robbie has spent around pounds 2m on his three-storey house. The cost includes installing a recording studio, but he was refused planning permission to fit a 60ft fireman's pole!

BIGGEST EXTRAVAGANCE: Around pounds 15,000 on a special hot tub (left) for his garden. Imported from California it comes complete with TV and DVD player.

COST OF HOME: pounds 3 million, plus pounds 2 million in renovations.

CHER

LOCATION: Malibu, California, USA.

HOME IMPROVEMENTS: Cher meticulously hand-picked each tile in her house, which has been described as a cross between a villa and a monastery. The re-decorating was heavily influenced by Cher's love of gothic art. "The darkness and mystery appeals to me," she says. The seven-bedroomed house features a wig room, media room and copper ceiling in the dining room.

BIGGEST EXTRAVAGANCE: A huge swimming pool that appears to spill into the Pacific ocean.

COST OF HOME: pounds 15 million.

MADONNA AND GUY RITCHIE

LOCATION: Central London town house and country pile Ashcombe House, Dorset.

HOME IMPROVEMENTS: Fears over safety prompted Madge to fork out pounds 500,000 on security in her central London home, including bars at the windows and hi-tech security systems. When she and Guy bought the magnificent Ashcombe House, a six-bedroomed Georgian mansion set in 1,200 acres, Madonna added her own touches with pastel shades and chintz. There are four-poster beds in each of the bedrooms and an antique rocking horse for children to ride in the lounge.

BIGGEST EXTRAVAGANCE: Over pounds 10,000 to have five trees winched into the garden of their London home for privacy.

COST OF HOMES: Combined value in the region of pounds 15 million. And rising fast.

BRITNEY SPEARS

LOCATION: Kentwood, Louisiana, USA.

HOME IMPROVEMENTS: Britney is so thrilled with her new home she's called it Serenity. Luxuries installed include an indoor and outdoor cinema, large swimming pool, jacuzzi and recording studio. There's also an opulent bathroom with stained-glass windows and oyster-shaped bath, while her bedroom is dominated by a white four-poster bed to house her huge collection of dolls. Security was stepped up after an intruder broke in and took obscene pictures of himself in the bath. The property is now fitted with state-of-the-art technology and a 20ft-high fence.

BIGGEST EXTRAVAGANCE: pounds 50,000 summer house.

COST OF HOME: pounds 1.8 million.

ANTONIO BANDERAS AND

MELANIE GRIFFITHS

LOCATION:

Hancock Park, LA.

HOME IMPROVEMENTS: A small fortune has been spent on the couples' 1920s mansion, turning it into a Tuscan-styled palace. The hallway alone is decorated with handmade terracotta floor tiles, art nouveau lamps and chairs covered with hand-stamped silk. There's a priceless art collection, an office decorated with Venetian glass mirrors, and a wine vault with its own ballroom. However, Melanie remains humble about her abode. "If we had to live in a small apartment, it would change nothing. There are so many people in the world with nothing."

BIGGEST EXTRAVAGANCE: Apart from the art collection and Antonio's recording studio, the couple splashed out pounds 700,000 on land next to their property. Their current 15,000 square footage was obviously not enough.

COST OF HOME: About pounds 3 million.

VICTORIA AND DAVID BECKHAM

LOCATION: Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire.

HOME IMPROVEMENTS: Posh and Becks are known to love luxury and have spared nothing on their Herts mansion, nicknamed Beckingham Palace. "I've themed every room," says Victoria. "It's really camp." Her home improvements include an Audrey Hepburn bathroom with black and white photos of her favourite film star, a leopard print bedroom, a huge hallway, complete with chandelier, and a black and gold snooker room for Mr Beckham.

BIGGEST EXTRAVAGANCE: Around pounds 300,000 on a recording studio for Victoria, garages for David's growing collection of luxury cars and a golf course in the back garden.

COST OF HOME: pounds 2.6 million.

MICHAEL JACKSON

LOCATION: Santa Ynez Valley, LA.

HOME IMPROVEMENTS: Michael has to be one of the most prolific home improvers. He has spent an undisclosed fortune transforming his 2,700-acre Californian ranch into his own fantasy retreat called Neverland. The property includes a zoo, amusement arcade, train track and cinema.

BIGGEST EXTRAVAGANCE: A treasure room for his 100 antique dolls and pounds 600,000- worth of jewels. He also has plans to build a sophisticated, hi-tech computer school for his two children. "How can they go into society?," he asks, in all seriousness. "He's Prince Michael Jackson. She's Paris Katherine Michael Jackson. It would be too difficult." Indeed.

COST OF HOME: Bought for pounds 12 million, now worth pounds 25 million.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Feb 24, 2002
Words:766
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