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Jun 22, 201609:05 AM
Bon Vivant

Design, entertaining and good living with New Orleans Bride and Homes & Lifestyles editor Melanie Warner Spencer

House Sitting Hospitality

Creating a cozy space when friends or family house or pet sit for you

Last week, Mark and I went on vacation along the Gulf Coast. We were able to stay away for five days without worrying about the cat or our place, because our 22-year-old nephew was happy to house and pet sit for us. While our house is more spacious and has more, shall we say amenities, than his bachelor pad, the unfortunate part for our nephew is that the cat isn’t much fun, because she is anti-social with anyone who isn’t me or Mark. But, we did what we could to make it an enjoyable stay for him. Over the years, several different friends and family have done pet sitting duty for us. In some cases, we had reciprocal pet sitting agreements and traded off to help one another out. Whether or not that’s the case, we still always tried — and still do — to make the sitting as enjoyable as possible for our sitter. Here are a few tips for creating a cozy — and maybe even fun — retreat for your house or pet sitter.


  1. Whether we have a sitter or not, we always clean the house before going out of town. It’s just a lot nicer to come home to a tidy space. It’s especially important to clean up before your sitter arrives, because a messy home — even if it’s bigger and better than their own space — is not going to be very inviting. We made sure there were no dirty dishes in the kitchen and that all of the surfaces were wiped down there and in the bathroom. All of the beds were made up with clean linens and everything was in its place throughout the house. Our nephew knows his way around, but if he didn’t I would have put clean bath linens out for him.
  2. Since we have a cat, I put sticky notes around the kitchen so he could find her food and treats. I also left him with the name and contact info for the emergency vet, just in case. 
  3. Since it’s no fun to use up your smartphone minutes, we write down WiFi passcodes and any passcodes and instructions for movie service subscriptions, too.
  4. We keep a folder with the menus of various restaurants that deliver, so I place that on the kitchen counter in an easy-to-see spot.
  5. A note with any special instructions for pets, plants or anything else is also a great idea, so your sitter can reference it at their leisure.
  6. Leave a few magazines and books on the coffee table.
  7. Stocking the house with your sitter’s favorite beverages and snacks is a great way to keep them happy and make them feel appreciated. Our nephew isn’t much of a snacker, so we hooked him up with a six-pack of his favorite beer. I’ve also put out wine, pastries, fancy coffees and other specialty items as a little welcome gift pack.
  8. Finally, I always tell the sitter that our house is their house, to make himself or herself at home and to eat, drink and be merry.


Comfort is at the heart of the things we do to get the house ready for a sitter. While our cat doesn’t socialize much, I know by the way she reacts when we get home that it makes a huge difference when someone is there taking care of her, so we want to make it as pleasant and enjoyable as we can. That way, our sitter has a good time and we don’t get accosted by an angry feline the moment we set foot in the door. It’s a win-win.


Do you have any tips to share for making your house cozy for the house or pet sitter? Email me at Melanie@MyNewOrleans.Com or share in the comments.  



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Bon Vivant

Design, entertaining and good living with New Orleans Bride and Homes & Lifestyles editor Melanie Warner Spencer


Melanie Warner Spencer is a native Kentuckian, but says she got to New Orleans as fast as she could. For more than 16 years, Melanie has covered lifestyle, design and entertainment at various publications, serving as the design columnist at The Austin American-Statesman, a senior staff reporter at the Houston Chronicle and most recently as the editor-in-chief of Houston Brides magazine. Her work also has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, the Huffington Post and Reuters in the United States and across the globe. In her spare time, Melanie is an award-winning fine art photographer and has been honored by the Texas Press Association for her editorial photography. She also has been honored by the Press Club of New Orleans for its Excellence in Journalism Awards and is currently serving as a media member of the board of directors. Cooking and eating fabulous food and taking road trips with her spouse of 16 years, fellow writer and filmmaker Mark Patrick Spencer however, is at the top of her list of favorite pastimes. Click here to like Spencer's Facebook page and follow her on Twitter @MelanieSpencer. 


You can reach her at melanie@myneworleans.com.




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