Luxury meets family life for a Spirit Lake couple | Siouxland life


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

However, he and his wife, Barb, did not want to give up luxury with the move.

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


“Our house is not on the lake, but it is close,” Al Giese said.

On the counter behind the bar are bottles of whiskey collected by Barb Giese’s father. The wine cellar in the back is stocked with bottles of the $10 wine preferred by Barb’s husband, Al.

Jesse Brothers Sioux City Journal

spirit lake home

A dining room set, once owned by Barb Giese’s grandmother, adds an elegant touch to the Spirit Lake home. The dining set, made in Germany in the 1920s, now stands just off the entryway on the first floor of the home.

Jesse Brothers Sioux City Journal

Giving a tour of the home that has more than 12 bedrooms and a three-car garage, Barb Giese said the house was well-maintained when the couple bought it.

“That was a huge selling point,” he said. “The house had beautiful Brazilian cherry hardwood floors throughout and had so many perks.”

Among those perks was a home theater, as well as a bar and wine cellar, which has whiskey bottles collected by Barb Giese’s father.

“This is also where I keep my $10 bottles of wine,” Al Giese said with a smile.

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

“You look in magazines and you see houses that are all black and white,” he said. “Those houses seem too harsh or cold to me.”

Instead, Barb Giese prefers a nice shade of beige for her rooms.

“I think it makes it more warm and homey,” he explained.

Especially cozy is the dining room, which has a set of furniture that belonged to Barb Giese’s grandparents.

“It was made in Germany in the 1920s,” he said.

spirit lake home

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

Jesse Brothers Sioux City Journal

spirit lake home

An antique toilet, once owned by Barb Giese’s great-grandparents, can be found in the couple’s bedroom.

Jesse Brothers Sioux City Journal

Similarly, the master bedroom features significant memorabilia, such as an antique desk that Barb Giese used as a child.

Also, there is an antique chest of drawers once owned by Barb Giese’s great-grandfather.

Family is very important. That’s certainly true whenever the Gies’ two adult daughters come to visit.

“That’s one of the nice things about having a house by 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 at Okoboji,” said Barb Giese. “It’s fun that they enjoy our house as much as we do.”

However, Al Giese admits that it is his wife who keeps the interior of the house in tip-top condition.

“Barb decorates the house,” he said. “I have to take care of the lawn.”

Reflecting on his time on the lakes, Al Giese said that this lifestyle is the perfect blend of rural and urban life.

“Here we have the modern elements in our house,” he said. “Plus, we get to see a lot of wildlife from our window.”

In fact, Al Giese said it was the perfect house for him and his wife when they bought it.

While they don’t plan to sell it any time soon, he said it would be an ideal home for an executive with an eye for luxurious 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 bought their five-bedroom house a decade ago. It has easy access to the East Lake of Spirit Lake and plenty of room for a family.

Jesse Brothers Sioux City Journal

spirit lake home

Giese’s dining room features an antique dining set, once owned by Barb Giese’s grandparents.

Jesse Brothers, Sioux City Journal