SPIRIT LAKE, Iowa – Al Giese, a former business executive who lived in the Twin Cities, wanted to return to his hometown of Iowa.
However, he and his wife Barb did not want to do without luxury when they moved.
That’s why, in 2012, the Gieses bought a two-story, five-bedroom home in Arthur Heights, a quiet, family-friendly neighborhood on Spirit Lake’s East Lake.
“Our house is not on the lake, but close by,” said Al Giese.
Barb Giese gave a tour of the home, which has more than 12 rooms plus a three-car garage, and said the home was well maintained when the couple bought it.
“That was a big selling point,” she said. “The house had a beautiful Brazilian cherry wood floor throughout and had many extras.”
These perks included a home theater, as well as a bar and wine cellar, where bottles of whiskey were collected from Barb Giese’s father.
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“This is also where I keep my $10 bottles of wine,” Al Giese said, laughing.
As she walked through the home, Barb Giese said the furnishings reflected her sense of style.
“You look in magazines and you see houses that are all black or all white,” she said. “These houses seem too bare or too cold to me.”
Instead, Barb Giese prefers a pleasant shade of beige in her rooms.
“I think it makes it warmer and cozier,” she explained.
The dining room is particularly inviting with a set of furniture that once belonged to Barb Giese’s grandparents.
“It was made in Germany in the 1920s,” she said.
Similarly, the master bedroom features significant memorabilia, like a vintage desk that Barb Giese used as a child.
There is also an antique chest of drawers that was once owned by Barb Giese’s great-grandfather.
Family is very important. This is definitely the case when the Giese’s two adult daughters come to visit.
“That’s one of the nice things about having a house on a lake,” Al Giese said, laughing. “We get a lot of family visits every summer.”
“I know our granddaughters always say they have their regular friends at home and their summer friends in Okoboji,” Barb Giese said. “It’s fun that they enjoy our house as much as we do.”
But Al Giese readily admits that it’s his wife who keeps the inside of the house in tip-top shape.
“Barb decorates the house,” he said. “I’ll take care of the lawn.”
Looking back on his time at the lakes, Al Giese said this lifestyle was the perfect combination of rural and urban living.
“Here we get the modern elements in our house,” he said. “Plus, we can see a lot of wildlife from our window.”
In fact, Al Giese said it was the perfect home for him and his wife when they bought it.
Although they don’t plan to sell it anytime soon, he said it would be an ideal home for an executive with an eye for upscale living.
“I lived in the Twin Cities for a long time,” Al Giese said. “I much prefer to live where I am now.”