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Luxury meets family life for a Spirit Lake couple

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SPIRIT LAKE, Iowa -- A former corporate executive living in the Twin Cities, Al Giese wanted to return to his native Iowa.

Yet he and his wife Barb didn't want to give up luxury with the move.

That's why the Gieses purchased a two-story, five-bedroom home in Arthur Heights, a quiet, family friendly neighborhood on East Lake in Spirit Lake in 2012.

"Our house isn't on the lake but it's close," Al Giese said. 

Spirit Lake home

On the counter behind the bar are whisky bottles collected by Barb Giese's father. The wine cellar, in back, features bottles of the $10 wine favored by Barb's husband Al.

Spirit Lake home

A dining room set, which once belonged to Barb Giese's grandmother, adds an elegant touch to the Spirit Lake home. The dining room set, made in Germany in the 1920s, now sits just off the entryway on the first floor of the house.

Giving a tour of the house that has more than 12 rooms as well as a three-car garage, Barb Giese said the house had been well-maintained when the couple purchased it.

"That was a big selling point," she said. "The house had beautiful Brazilian Cherrywood flooring throughout and had plenty of perks."

Among those perks was a home theater as well as a bar and wine cellar, which has whisky bottles collected by Barb Giese's dad.

"This is also where I keep my $10 bottles of wine," Al Giese said with a laugh.

Walking through the house, Barb Giese said its decor reflected her sense of style.

"You look in magazines and you see homes that are all in black or white," she said. "Those houses seem too stark or cold to me."

Instead, Barb Giese prefers a pleasant shade of beige to her rooms.

"I think it makes it warmer and homier," she explained.

Especially welcoming is the dining room, which has a furniture set that once belonged to Barb Giese's grandparents.

"It was made in Germany back in 1920s," she said.

Spirit Lake home

Barb Giese still keeps this antique writing desk, which was in her childhood bedroom, at the Spirit Lake home she shares with her husband Al Giese.

Spirit Lake home

An antique commode, which was once owned by Barb Giese's great-grandparents, can be found in the couple's bedroom.

Similarly, the primary bedroom features meaningful keepsakes, like a vintage writing desk that Barb Giese used as a child.

In addition, there is an antique commode that was once owned by Barb Giese's great-grandfather. 

Family is very important. That is certainly true whenever the Gieses' two adult daughters come to visit.

"That's one of the nice things about having a house by a lake," Al Giese said, chuckling. "We get plenty of visits from family every summer."

"I know our granddaughters always say they have their regular friends back home and their summers friends in Okoboji," Barb Giese said. "It's fun that they enjoy our house as much as we do."

Yet Al Giese readily admits it is his wife who keeps the interior of the house in tip-top shape.

"Barb decorates the house," he said. "I get to take care of the lawn."

Reflecting back on his time at the lakes, Al Giese said this lifestyle is the perfect combination of rural and city living.

"Here, we get the modern elements in our house," he said. "Plus we can see plenty of wildlife from our window."

Indeed, Al Giese said it was the perfect house for him and his wife when they purchased it.

While they aren't planning on selling it anytime soon, he said it would be an ideal home for an executive who has an eye for upscale living.

"I lived in the Twin Cities for a long time," Al Giese said. "I much prefer living where I am now."

Spirit Lake home

Al and Barb Giese purchased their five-bedroom house a decade ago. It has easy access to Spirit Lake's East Lake and plenty of space for a family.

Spirit Lake home

The Giese's dining room features a vintage dining room set, once owned by Barb Giese's grandparents.

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