The pink-and-bijou-white home of PetsPyjamas website founder Denise Elphick

PetsPyjamas website founder Denise Elphick adores her dogs, so her pretty home in Fulham is designed for them all to share.
Click to follow
​Love them or hate them, dogs and doggy paraphernalia are big business. Just ask former Evening Standard writer Denise Elphick, who set up the successful PetsPyjamas website with entrepreneur Karen Hanton in 2011.

The site, which offers everything from stylish pet accessories to a glossy magazine for pet lovers, also has a successful new strand offering posh places to stay where pets are welcomed with open paws.

“We launched it in May last year and it took off,” says Elphick, 53, whose two Norfolk Terriers, Rufus and Heidi, play a key role in the operation. “You can stay at Cliveden House in Berkshire, Le  Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire and many other places. 

“Rufus and Heidi are our pet inspectors. They turn up in little tweed coats and hats. Ring our pet concierge service to discuss.”


Before PetsPyjamas, Elphick and  Hanton were founding partners in  TopTable website, which let restaurant owners advertise and book customers directly. The business was sold in 2010 to a company in the United States for a reported £36 million. “Start at the top, that’s my motto,” she says. “Get the best in, and the rest will follow.”

Elphick has lived in Parsons Green since 1989. This part of south-west London, with its cafés, boutiques, green spaces and the river nearby, is perfect for pet lovers and families.

Elphick bought the terrace house with her first husband, an accountant, who she married when she was 23.

The couple had previously moved to Hong Kong where, though trained as a secretary, Elphick started dealing in furniture.

When they returned to London, she raised daughter Camilla and wrote for the Evening Standard on interiors and design.

She was still writing for the Standard in 2000 when she met Hanton in a café around the corner from her home. 
The sunny courtyard garden, designed with seating all the way round, has potted olive trees and jaunty colour pops from lavender and geraniums

Hanton had just had the idea of TopTable, so Elphick joined up with her to offer creative input.

Given that Elphick is crazy about dogs, you might think it odd to have an almost all-white house, but she pooh-poohs this idea at once. 

The white-gloss painted floorboards, now attractively mellowed, which go everywhere including up the uncarpeted stairs, were done five years ago with ordinary gloss and just get a wash every week and a wipe if necessary. 

She vacuums the upholstery with a pet-dedicated cleaner. “Have rugs rather than fitted carpets and clean or replace when needed,” she says. “Though  you can’t prepare for everything — a Labradoodle once peed on the coffee table and its owner was mortified.”

But when Elphick and her then husband moved in, the house wasn’t white at all. “It was pure Colefax and Fowler, very dark,” she says. “But it was also well done, so I left it.” 

The house, a classic three-storey, quite shallow Victorian terrace, had a narrow little kitchen and a rather plain lawn.

Elphick stuck with it until 2005, when she and her husband divorced. Soon afterwards, she met her new husband, Rory Foster, a Guardian journalist, on what turned out to be a romantic skiing trip. Perhaps the dazzling white snow inspired her, but it was time for a major home makeover.

In one fell swoop, out went the dark colours. On went an extension with a big skylight over where the dining table would be, making an incredibly sunny kitchen-diner. Elphick’s friend, designer Lena Proudlock, whose son Oliver owns the design-led Serge DeNimes fashion and accessories brand and stars in Made in Chelsea, suggested the idea of a light, classical Swedish palette.

Elphick started out with pale grey, but soon went for pure white, both for walls and floors. 

Proudlock also suggested mirroring all the panels of the doors and cupboards, and the walls of the little enclosed hall. This last idea is terrific, turning an ordinary small entrance into a glittering, mini Versailles Hall of Mirrors.

Proudlock’s other suggestion, apart from putting big antique mirrors everywhere possible — there are 17 in the house — was to hang glass chandeliers. Taken together, the effect is one of brightness and prettiness. The mirrors are surprisingly easy to live with and definitely create a sense of extra space.

Against this backdrop Elphick, who says she loves cheerfulness and light, has introduced sofas, chairs and beds that all have a distinct 18th-century feel. 

While they are mainly antiques, bought locally over the years, they’re all  upholstered in fresh, contemporary linens, silks and velvets in strong pinks, limes, turquoises and taupes, many from Designers Guild, which keeps the look modern.

It is a good palette, repeated in the convivial and sunny courtyard garden, designed with seating all the way round, potted olive trees, and jaunty colour pops from lavender and geranium.
Elphick’s home is certainly pet friendly, but it’s not pet dominated.

PetsPyjamas is at

Follow us on Twitter @HomesProperty, Facebook and Instagram