Housewarming Gifts

Someone you know just move? Or buy their first house? And you don’t know what to get them? Wanting to get someone a great housewarming gift can be a challenge. You don’t want to bring the same gift everyone else gives, but you still want to give a great gift. A gift that is both unique and practical. There are many different things to consider, but don’t worry, we came up with a list of cute and unique housewarming gift ideas to give!


If you don’t want to get too creative, and are just looking for a nice gift, you can’t go wrong with any of these gifts!

  • Wine & Wine Glasses
  • Salt & Pepper Shakers – They can be an easy gift and inexpensive! Try get some shakers that most people don’t have. Find unique ones that would fit in with the personality of the homeowners.
  • Plants – Plants are a classic house warming gift. Any plant will do, but we are big fans of succulents! They are low maintenance and so cute in any room!letter board


If you are going to give some home decor, give something that they probably don’t have! Consider a wreath for the front door or a letter board that the new homeowners can make their own!

Personalize it

By getting a personalized gift, I always think it means so much more! The new home owners will see you put thought and time into getting their gift and they’ll appreciate it greatly! You could get them a framed portrait of their home so that no matter where they go, they’ll always be able to remember their first home! Personalized door mats or a personalized return address stamp are both extremely practical and adorable! By using a map of their location you could give custom map coasters or serving trays.

If you don’t like any of these suggestions, just keep looking! Let your friends and family know you are thinking of them and are happy for them by putting a little thought into your gift! Thoughtfulness will always trump extravagance.

For more gift ideas, visit Perfect Gifts for New Homeowners


Source: Gowen, Zoe. “Perfect Gifts for New Homeowners.” Southern Living,

Image retrieved from:

Home Cleaner Longer

Do you ever feel like you are constantly trying to keep your house clean? Or thinking that you just cleaned and everything’s a mess again? Keeping a clean house can be a challenge, especially if you have pets or many people living in your house. With school starting up again, we know things can get hectic. In all this chaos, we know cleaning is probably not a number one priority. This is why we have found some different tips for cleaning your house and ways to keep it cleaner longer.


By placing doormats by doors in high traffic areas, you can keep entrance ways more clean. These mats collect dirt and may encourage individuals to take off their shoes before walking throughout the house. Some doormats can be vacuumed or machine washable, but even shaking them out outside is an easy way to clean them. Just by adding something small, like a doormat, less dirt will enter your home!


One interesting tip we found for keeping your showers clean is by using rain-repellent spray that is used for cars. By spraying and cleaning with these types of products that are normally used for car windshields, water and soap will rinse off the shower glass rather than cause scum to build up.  

Protectant Sprays

Keeping your furniture and carpets clean can be done by using protectant sprays. These sprays can protect spills from absorbing into the couch which helps prevents from stains.cleaner longer

Daily Cleaning

Cleaning can be much less of a chore if you clean more often. By cleaning little bits at a time, your house will begin to remain clean. If you store different cleaning products all over the house, rather than in one area, you may find yourself quick cleaning an area. For example if you store bathroom cleaning products in the bathroom rather than in a storage room, it will be easier to quick clean the counter tops or toilet.


For more in-depth information and additional tips, click Here.


Source: Sullivan, Deirdre. “7 Tips and Tricks to Keep Your Home Cleaner Longer.” Houselogic, HouseLogic, 23 Oct. 2017, www.housel

Image retrieved from

Homeowner Don’ts

As a homeowner you are in control of your house and what happens to it. We often see new, cool ideas you may want to try to update your curb appeal or renovate a room in your house. But what we don’t often see are the mistakes homeowners make and how it can affect the value of their home. We have found a list of different home maintenance tips to try out and to avoid. This tips can help you avoid making any renovations or updates that may decrease your home’s resale value.

Planting Trees

Planting trees can be great for increasing your curb appeal. Shade from trees can offer a cool place to escape the sun. Also, smaller trees near the home can help reduce heating and cooling bills as they also provide shade in the summer, but let the sun come through in the winter. Although trees are a great addition to any yard, it is important that you know what kind to get and where to plant it. The biggest mistake to avoid is to plant too large of trees too close to the house. Before you plant, know how large the tree will grow to be and plant it accordingly. Too big of trees too close to the house always bring the potential of falling on the house and causing a lot of damage. The roots can also damage the home’s foundation and the different underground pipes. So before you plant, know what you are getting yourself into!

Painting Cabinets

Painting cabinets is a great way to update the look of your kitchen. It can create a new look and make a kitchen appear modern! When painting cabinets, you need to take the cabinet doors off. If it may take a little bit more time, but it will be so worth it. You will be able to paint the entire surface area of the cabinet and it’ll look so much better!

Architectural Features

If your home has unique, original architectural features, do not get rid of them! These are the things that make your home unique and you shouldn’t remove them just because it seems “out of date” currently. They really make your home what it is, and you shouldn’t change that! Also if you plan on selling it, buyers love unique features that set your house apart from the others! 


Use neutral colors for the big things. Whether it’s in your kitchen, bathroom, or another room, use neutral colors for the appliances, countertops, and other fixtures that are difficult and expensive to change. Add color to your space with different decorations. For example, in the bathroom add color with rugs and towels!


For many more “don’ts” and other tips, visit Home Maintenance Tips.



Walters, Kelley. “17 Things to Never, Ever, EVER Do to Your House.” Houselogic, HouseLogic, 8 June 2018,


Why Live in Spirit Lake?

Why choose to live in Spirit Lake? For some of us who have lived here for a long time, this is an easy question to answer. We love this area and we think it is a great place to live. Each small town in the lakes region has so much to offer! There is always something to do, especially during the summer months. The life on the lake is peaceful in such a busy time of year. This area is so beautiful and there are many reasons why we love living here!


For those of you who haven’t lived here long, or are thinking about moving to the area, we are here to give some helpful inputs on the area! This summer we had an intern in our office to help with daily office duties and to do some marketing for us! Her name is Corrie and she has visited the lakes many times but never has lived here, until this summer. We decided to ask Corrie what some of her favorite parts of living here this summer so that you can all see what this beautiful part of Iowa has to offer!oko


“Living in Spirit Lake for over 3 months now has been such a joy. I love the environment that is surrounded by the lake. One thing I love about living here is that two opposite, distinct lifestyles that come together in one place. The lake gives off such a relaxing feeling, but also a feeling of go go go with all the hustle and bustle of the tourists and visitors for the summer. There is a great balance between the two, and you can kind of control which lifestyle to be a part of! I also love that there’s always something to do for everyone. Whether you like nature and the great outdoors, or if you like shopping and an exciting night life–there’s something for you! Personally, I love doing both! I love getting coffee or ice cream, and I also love walking the trails of the state parks or kayaking! I also see deer and other small animals all the time and I love it! There’s also a lot of cool, unique restaurants to go to! This area is such a great place to live, and I would recommend it to anyone!”

Storage Tips for Your Bathroom

Clutter always seems to find its way into our lives. We deep clean and a week later our possessions have taken over again. Avoiding clutter can be easier in some areas more than others. We often pay attention to the clutter that everyone can see when they visit our homes; such as clutter in the entryway or living room. But with so many products, towels, and other things that belong in a bathroom, clutter can occur there too! This is why we have found some tips and interesting ways for storing different things in the bathroom to maximize your space and keep it looking clean and clutter-free!


Add storage

Under the sink: Put in cabinets under and around the sink. The look of a bare sink may look cool, but adding cabinets underneath will maximize storage in the bathroom both underneath the sink but also with additional counter space around the sink.

Above the toilet: Add shelving above the toilet! Space above and around the toilet often goes unused. If you need more storage or shelving you can custom build shelves above the toilet. You can place your washroom items in baskets to but on the shelves. Baskets will help hide the clutter and add a stylish touch!

On the backs of doors:  For small items, consider storing them on the backs of doors or cabinet mirrors. Hang up small holders for makeup or your toothbrush. On the back of the main door you can add towel hooks which will clear up space on the walls.

**Use hooks instead of bars: For hanging up your wet towels, use hooks! Most towel bars can only hold one towel, and often times hanging a wet towel on the bar usually is not done very neatly and can look sloppy. Hooks take up less room.



  • Shower caddies can be helpful in organizing your belongings. You can take them out when you need to use the things in them, but are easy to store when not in use. This will keep you bathroom looking tidy.
  • Get rid of things you don’t use. Whether it is old lotions, makeup, or hair ties you don’t wear, just throw them away or donate them. One easy way to avoid a messy looking bathroom is to only have what you need and use.
  • If there are items that you are not using now, feel free to store them in a different closet or room in the house where more storage space is available.


For additional tips on keeping your bathroom clean and organized, visit Declutter Your Bathroom.



Better Homes & Gardens. “Declutter Your Bathroom.” Better Homes and Gardens, Better Homes &Gardens,

Image retrieved from:

Update Your Patio!


During this beautiful time of the year, you may find yourself spending more and more time outside! The summer months are a great time to sit outside, relax, and enjoy a nice day out on your deck or patio. If your patio is lacking appeal, don’t worry, that’s why we’re here! We have found some great ways to give your patio a new look so you can optimize your outdoor space!

Keep it Calm

Many patio spaces are meant for relaxing. In an area that is used to unwind, make sure your patio furniture and any additional decorations match that concept. You don’t want to implement any updates that may be excessive or overwhelming. Along with this, if you want this space to be utilized as a space to relax in, make sure to buy furniture that doesn’t require a lot of maintenance. Also, buy furniture that is functional and comfortable! There is plenty of patio furniture that is cute and comfy; don’t sacrifice comfort for a stylish design.

  • You can accomplish a comfortable yet stylish design more easily than you think! When choosing a color theme, make sure it goes with your house. Don’t be afraid to add a little color though! You can add different pops of color or patterns with vibrant plants or throw pillows. Throw pillows also add extra comfort!


When choosing your patio furniture, there are many things to keep in mind. You want to achieve a stylish design while having comfortable pieces! Buying furniture that can serve multiple purposes is a good idea! For example, purchase a table that can hold an umbrella! Umbrellas are great for providing shade on hot days! Along with this, think of different ways to utilize your patio space and furniture. Creating a multipurpose area will be great for when you want to relax or entertain!

  • Having lightweight furniture can be extremely beneficial. Lightweight furniture can serve more of a purpose than furniture that is heavy to move. You can utilize your patio furniture in many different ways whether on the patio, or around a fire pit. Also if you have a deck, carrying outdoor furniture up and down stairs is inevitable and if it’s lightweight it can be done much more easily!


Additional Furnishings

You can add many other things to your patio set to create a great look! Plants and flower pots are always a great touch for any outdoor area! If you really want to spruce things up, adding a water feature is an option! Whether it’s just a bird bath, or a koi pond, water features can be a great bonus! Outdoor lighting is also a great place to make improvements or to add a little extra decor! Having citronella candles can provide the perfect amount of light for a cozy, relaxing mood while simultaneously repelling bugs! Hanging string lights is another super cute option for additional outdoor lighting! How ever you decide to update your patio, make it unique!

For more design tips and ideas, visit 16 Great Patio Ideas.



Better Homes & Gardens. “16 Great Patio Ideas.” Better Homes and Gardens, Better Homes & Gardens,

Image retrieved from:

Attention: First Time Home Buyers!

Buying a home is a huge financial decision, perhaps one of the biggest financial decisions you will make in your lifetime. Buying your first home can be an overwhelming experience, but it doesn’t have to be! We have compiled a list of things you should think about and plan for when going through the process of buying your first home!

  1. Are you ready? Just because you want to buy a house, doesn’t mean you are ready to. Be sure to be in good financial standing. Also keep in mind that having a house requires more upkeep and additional payments than just the mortgage. Keep in mind utilities, property taxes, insurance, etc.
  2. Once you know you are set to buy a house, compile a list of your needs and wants. Ask your friends, mentors, family, or significant other for help and advice when prioritizing your needs. For example, what is more important to you: the price, the size of the town, neighborhood, access to downtown, school district?
  3. Now that you know what you want and need, look online and then find an agent! Feel free to browse the internet for different listings. Just like shopping for something else, it is good to check out different homes and listings and compare them before making a decision. Next, find a real estate agent. Having an agent help you though this new experience will be extremely helpful! Professional help is immensely beneficial. There is a lot more to purchasing a home than what you may first think, and an agenext homefor salent will help you each step of the way!
  4. After finding an agent, find a lender and chose a mortgage loan that will suit your needs and plan. Your agent can also help you with this step to make it less stressful. Remember to maintain good financial status during and after this process. You should get preapproved for a loan before you start looking at homes and going to open houses.
  5. Next comes the fun part! Visit different houses and listings to see what works best for you! The first home you buy is one that you won’t ever forget!
  6. Once you make a decision on a house, make an offer, and negotiate with the owners. This can be stressful, but negotiating will pay off in the end. Once a deal is made, make sure to get an inspection of the home and appraisal done.
  7. Sign the closing papers, and you have just bought your first home!

Contact NextHome At the Lakes to find an agent who will help you in each stage when buying a new home!

For additional information on each of these steps, visit The Everything Guide to Buying Your First Home.


HouseLogic. “The Everything Guide to Buying Your First Home.” Houselogic, HouseLogic, 5 Mar. 2018,

Image retrieved from: 

Renovate or Sell?

Renovate your home or sell?

There may come a point in your life when you have to decide whether to renovate or sell your home. There are many different things to consider when trying to make this decision. Both of these options have their pros and cons, but it is important to think about each one carefully before making a decision.



Over time, selling has gotten easier. If you find a helpful real estate agent to sell your house for you, it can make the process much easier. If you want to see how much your house would sell for, you can check out what the other homes for sale in your neighborhood are priced at and get a rough estimate. You can do many small projects and updates to help sell your home too! Whether this be updating your curb appeal, deep cleaning your home, or improving certain fixtures or areas around the home, you can increase the value of your home and it will be easier to sell. Before you sell your home, take in consideration your neighborhood, school district, access to downtown, and other factors such as these. If you enjoy the area you are living, it may be a hard adjustment to a new place with new people. Evaluate if a change would be a good idea for your family or not. If you think selling your house is the best option, make sure to contact one of our agents here at NextHome At The Lakes and we will help you through the whole process! If you do not think selling your home and moving is the way to go, try a renovation!



Renovating is an excellent alternative for those houses that need a little help, but the home-owners are not looking to sell. Over time, renovating has gotten more expensive, but it can greatly increase the value of the house. Although, you may want to keep in mind that however much money you put in to your home, you may not receive the same amount back. For example if your renovate and update your bathroom for $8,000 you most likely will not be able to increase your listing price by $8,000. Generally speaking, renovating your current home is a less expensive option than going through the process of selling and buying a new home. Renovating instead of selling can be a great idea if you love the location you live in and are not wanting to have to relocate and start new.


Both remodeling and selling your home have benefits. By comparing the costs to each and evaluating other important factors, you will be equipped to make an educated  decision. For more tips and advice see, Should You Move or Improve?



Marks, Oliver. “Should You Move or Improve?” Houselogic, HouseLogic, 24 Aug. 2016,


Outdoor Activities

July in Iowa is the best time to be outside (in our opinion)! If the sun is shining, and the temps are hot, the lake is the best place to be! The summer months are great for spending time outside! We decided to compile a list of different parks, beaches, and other fun things to do outside! We’re already in July so make sure to soak in this nice weather and find something fun to do in the great outdoors!



Listed here are different state and county parks in the lakes area with trails! There are more parks that offer different things, but if you’re looking for a nice place to walk or hike, these are the best places to go!

Elinor Bedell State ParkLuke- Elinor Bedell State Park

Marble Beach State Recreation Area

Gull Point State Park

Emerson Bay State Recreation Area

Horseshoe Bend Park

Kenue Park

Little Foote Forest

Little Sioux Savanna

Lower Gar Access



Big Spirit Lake

Crandall’s BeachPicture of Luke at Terrace Beach

Orleans Swimming Beach


Pikes Point State Park Beach

Triboji Beach

Gull Point State Park Beach

Emerson Bay Beach

City Beach at Arnold’s Park

Terrace Park



If you want to be outdoors but don’t want to go to a park or beach, there are still more things to do! The lakes area offers many different golf courses, as well as mini golf and disc golf courses! Get on the water and go boating, paddle boarding, or kayaking! Take an outdoor yoga class or go camping! Visit the Dickinson County Nature Center. When the night rolls around, sit by a campfire or watch some fireworks! There is so much more to do too! Enjoy the rest of the summer by spending it outside and partaking in some of these fun activities!

Common Areas You Forgot to Clean

A normal cleaning day may consist of vacuuming, dusting, sweeping and mopping, but there is so much more to do! We often forget that certain areas and appliances need to be cleaned! We have compiled a list of different areas and appliances that you may have forgotten to clean or didn’t even realize you needed to clean! They may not need to be cleaned every week, but cleaning these areas once a while will keep your house looking sparkling clean!


Washing machine: You may not know this, but you should clean your washing machine! Whether you scrub it manually or start a cycle with vinegar in it, cleaning your washing machine is an important thing to do.

Kitchen Appliances:

  • Fridge: Go through the foods and drinks in your fridge and throw out any gross or expired foods. This in itself can help extinguish and rotten smells that may come. Once you got rid of expired foods, deep clean your fridge. Wipe down the different shelves and drawers. Now that the inside is clean, don’t forget the outside! People often forget the dust and grime that can build up underneath or behind fridges.
  • Stove: Like the fridge, make sure to clean underneath and around the stove as dust and food crumbs tend to build up in these areas.
  • Coffee pots, toasters, and other small appliances are easy to clean are often overlooked. Coffee and bread crumbs can build up over time, so cleaning these appliances will help your kitchen look clean and avoid any possible growth of mold.

Trash Can: We take the trash out when we clean, but often forget the trash can itself needs cleaning. Foods and beverages can spill or seep through the trash bag leaving residue to build up in your trash can. This can cause funky smells and mold. You can clean it many ways, but taking it outside and using a garden hose to spray it off may be the easiest! Cleaning out your trash can will keep your kitchen smelling fresh!

Light switches, door knobs, remote controls, toys: These areas are constantly being touched and germs and bacteria are constantly being spread through them. All of these things collect so many germs, yet we often do not even think to clean them. If you have young kids, it is important to disinfect toys frequently to avoid the spread of germs.

Bathroom: Everyone remembers to clean the sinks and toilet bowls, but there are areas in the bathroom that are often overlooked. While cleaning the toilet, don’t forget to get the back of it. Your toothbrush holder can collect a lot of germs and should be cleaned! The shower curtain should also be cleaned more frequently than you think! Dirt, soap scum, and shampoo can all build up on your shower curtain.cleaninh

Cleaning Supplies: Cleaning your cleaning supplies is a must! Whether it’s toilet brushes, brooms, kitchen sponges or other scrubbers, they need to be cleaned! Bacteria can build up on these cleaning supplies which will end up defeating your purpose of cleaning. Soak these items and they will be clean in no time!

Doorways, baseboards, window sills: You may find yourself dusting shelves and other surfaces, but don’t forget about the doorways, baseboards, ceiling fans, vents, and window sills! You may not have to dust/wipe down these areas every time you clean, but remember to do them every once in a while as dirt and dust can build up quickly.

Outdoors: During the summer months, keep your patio furniture looking fresh and new by cleaning it every once in a while. Also, the summer months are a great time to clean out your garage. Get rid of stuff you don’t use and take time to re-organize it! Give it a good sweep, and it will be looking much cleaner than before!

These areas are often forgot about and remain dirty for long periods of time. Hopefully this was a good reminder so that next time you clean you can get to these tough, overlooked places! Good luck cleaning, and don’t forget about under the stove!


For additional information and tips, visit 15 Places You Forget to Clean in Your Home.



Dahlstrom, Mady. “15 Places You Forget to Clean in Your Home.” U.S. News & World Report, U.S. News & World Report, 16 Aug. 2016,
Image retrieved from: