Lake Life Review

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You know how on vacation, when you get to the end of your stay, you are just ready to go HOME? How much nicer would it be if you could go on vacation and stay home all at the same time? I bet that is what the person who thought up the idea of VRBO had in mind when they created the vacation rental idea. Wish I would have thought of it first! I really have missed out on a ton of marketing opportunities; I just think of things too late!

So, as you may know (or not know), I am not in the area anymore. My husband’s education has pulled me out of the Lakes area for the last four years, and oh, do I miss it!

When looking at my calendar a few months ago, I saw a big event coming up. Susan’s daughter Fran was going to be having her graduation party—what a big accomplishment! After some back and forth conversation with Susan, I told her I would be back in town that weekend to help with anything she would need. However, she then informs me that she has already given up the guest bed in her house, where I usually stay when I come back to town for events, to some other family that would also be coming in for the weekend. And just as the saying goes, “when one door closes, another opens,” it all came true. An edition of Lake Life had just gone out on the streets in the Lakes area and I got a text from an old landlord. “Loved the latest edition of Lake Life! I didn’t know if you knew or not, but the house that you rented when you lived here turned into a VRBO, we would love to have you back for a stay sometime!” It’s like all of the pieces were falling into place, thanks to Brad and Jill Droegmiller.

I bet you are scratching your head, how does this even come to be a Lake Life review, and why do we care, and what am I even reading? Let me take a breath. Ok, let me take you a few steps back and start again.

You know how you are on vacation and you just want to go HOME? Well, this is what I did! I made arrangements to stay at Jill’s Bungalow, which from 2018-2020 was literally my home! After being in apartments for nearly five years, I knew it was time to get a little more settled in this place that I thought I would be for a long time. I even started to look at purchasing a home in Spirit Lake. When things just kept falling through, I went back to the rental search. One day at work, I was chatting with my coworker Jenn, and she said, "I know some family of mine is refinishing a house maybe you could rent from them." The rest is history. Literally!

Built in 1920, purchased by Jill’s family in 1950, the house was added onto multiple times. It took a bit of finagling to make a home of such small size work for a family of six to live in, as well as having an “apartment” on the back of the home for Jill’s grandmother. When the property was available for sale in 2014, Brad and Jill jumped on the opportunity to own Jill’s childhood home. With hopes to someday remodel the home so that others could enjoy it as much as she did as a kid. With such sentimental value, it was hard for Brad and Jill to start the project, knowing that so much of the home's history wouldn't remain in the home after remodeling. The house was stripped down to the studs and all internal items were removed and replaced. Even a brick chimney was removed from top to bottom, which meant a lot of trips up the small basement stairs with 5-gallon buckets full of bricks. Who needs a gym membership when you refinish homes, right Brad?! Now the whole Droegmiller family helps with the short-term rental property: daughter Karna helps with the cleaning and son Bradenn helps with input on items needed since he travels quite a bit. The original one-bedroom home with an attached one-bedroom apartment was transformed into a four-bedroom 1.5 bath home that I got to be the first tenant in August of 2018.

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I got to see a small portion of the remodel process when going through items to get the house rented, once it was ready in the summer of 2018. Still cannot believe the great work that Brad did to get the property from where it started to where it is at now. I remember chatting with Brad and Jill, and they mentioned they brought Jill's mom back to the property when they were done with the remodel, and she asked, "when can I move in?" Just a testament to the quality of the "home feel" and the memories made at 311 Lake Street.

So, when I got to the VRBO this last weekend, I wasn’t walking into a rental; I was walking into HOME. Opening the door, the house smelled so good! I had a flashback to what it looked like when I lived there, though a bit strange I wasn’t walking into all of my furniture. The place is so cute! A bar area to sit and do some work, or in my case, write this review for you all to read. Each bedroom has the beds made up and made me almost want to just jump right in and snuggle under the covers. Why leave this place when it is so cozy!

And that is just what Jill wants everyone to experience with their stay at the bungalow. Comfy beds, a cozy setting, and all of the amenities you could ask for as a home stay. It’s nestled among large oak trees with a front yard view of East Lake. The chairs in the yard make a great place to have your coffee in the morning while taking in the views of the lake. The bungalow is stocked with what I am going to call the “normal” things you need, but then there is so much more! A coffee bar, beach towels to take with you to the lake or across the street to the splash pad, water bottles with the bungalow logo on them, popcorn for your nights on the back furnished patio, and even a washer/dryer to do a load of laundry before you head back home—no need to travel with all of the dirty clothes.

Back to my stay...
I had a late night on Friday night helping set up for the graduation party so after parking in the lot at the back of the house, I came in and crawled into the king-size bed at the back most bedroom in the house. This was where my bedroom was so it just felt natural that was were I was going to stay. Though out of the other bedrooms, there were also two other queen beds to choose from, or if I would have been a nice guest, I should have stayed in the small front room of the house on the daybed. Waking up feeling refreshed on Saturday morning, I didn't want to get out of bed! After a refreshing shower and a cup of coffee made at the coffee bar, I took in the morning sun shining off the lake from the front door of the house. The splash pad not yet running for the season but families starting to trickle in to take advantage of the playground equipment. The splash pad being just one of many attractions up here at the Lakes that guests could take advantage of during their stay. The house is plenty big to accomodate a family! If the lake is more your style, it is just moments away from a boat launch ramp, or you could hop on your bike and take the trails down to Arnolds Park Amusement Park area. Making memories is just what is in store when you stay at Jill's Bungalow. No surprise there, since Jill had been making memories at this property for many years prior to the VRBO portion of the property's history, along with the memories that I made there when I lived in the house. It was my first HOUSE. It was the first place that I could put my car in the garage. Just don't ask Brad how nervous he was if I ever had to get ahold of him; he figured he would get a call that the garage fell on my car. They decided to take the garage down to make a wonderful parking spot for guests in April of 2023. This house was where I experience the COVID pandemic. It was where I had my friends and family join me for my bachelorette party. And It was where I came to after my hustand and I got married in June of 2020.

After the graduation party and festivities of the day on Saturday, I came back to the house to just relax. I took the time to sit down at the breakfast bar area (that is what I am calling it) to pull out my laptop and write down what the weekend at the house was like. I just have so many stories from this house, my perfect first house. If you are laughing at how long this is now, you should have seen how much I already cut out! The evening came and I crawled back into the king bed one more time just to wake up the next morning and not even know where the night went. What a restful sleep. But maybe it would have been restful anywhere that my almost 3-year-old isn't! If you know, you know! Sunday morning consisted of one more cup of coffee and just a little walk around the house to make sure I had all of my things gathered. I looked at the paper of instructions for guests at the bungalow to follow and saw I had to take the trash out to the bins on the side of the house, strip my bed of the sheets and put the used towels into the bathtub so when Karna came to clean she knew what she had to clean. As I closed the door with the key in the lockbox behind me, I just smiled. What a great place to stay and call my home again for the weekend.

Although not everyone is going to be as lucky as I am, and get to stay somewhere they feel SO comfortable, but I invite you to give it a try. There are a ton of great short-term rentals in our area and this is just one. The cute teal blue/green door will make you smile right away, but it is and always will be my favorite. Even if I have to “share” it with bachelorette parties, band members who will be playing in the Lakes area, or writers who need a peaceful getaway for inspiration, and I hope I can bring my family up for a weekend to get to enjoy this amazing place to call “home.” Even if it is just short term.

Brad and Jill said the first year the house served as a short-term rental was a great success. The guests were very respectful and even gave them a few tips on how to make their stay better. And with great response some of those guests will be returning again this year. Nothing better for a host than to know that people want to come back! Want to stay where I did? Check out the listing here»