James and Brenda Eickhoff's home is east of Wykoff on County 117.
James and Brenda Eickhoff's home is east of Wykoff on County 117.
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James and Brenda Eickhoff bought a frame with real character.

"It is an old farmhouse with lots of character. Architecturally, there are a lot of gables, as well as a balcony off the upstairs master bedroom. While the rooms are not large compared to modern floor plans, they are quite spacious considering the time period in which the home was built," said Brenda, surveying her circa 1900 rural Wykoff home, one of three on the Wykoff Historical Society's Christmas tour of homes.

The Eickhoffs bought their house in 2008. "We were renting a small house in Wykoff and wanted a bigger place that we could call our own. This house came on the market. We liked that it was in the country and only a mile from 'the farm' since James farms with his dad and uncle on their home place. Plus, it was just down the road from my grandparents. We like the cozy feel of the home. In terms of location, we very much enjoy living in the country and giving our daughter, Elsa, who will turn 3 in January, the opportunities and responsibilities that come with country living. We also have an outside dog - a beagle-corgi mix named Leinie that makes the barn her home, and numerous black farm cats running about."

The Eickhoffs had been somewhat familiar with the place when they bought the old farm with a four-bedroom, one-bath farmhouse. When they were growing up, it was known as the Jeche farm place. Brenda's mom, when she was a teenager, babysat the neighbor kids there. The house and farm changed hands several times, but when they moved in, Brenda recalled it being much the same, with the exception of the green shag carpeting.

Once James and Brenda bought it, they began working on personalizing it.

"The most drastic thing we did was change the color of the house. The house had slate siding painted brown, with faded red trim. We put on yellow vinyl siding with white trim and added gable decorations," said Brenda. "Inside, we kept the structure of the house the same, but scraped off many layers of wallpaper, painted the walls fresh new colors, refinished the original hardwood floors, and put in new carpet. I like that it has lots of cupboards in the kitchen and the usual creaks and groans of an old house, and the wide front entrance door and inside porch door to get a casket in and out...remnants from when funeral visitations used to be held in homes."

According to Brenda, James's favorite place to hang out is the furnace room "where the tools and beer are" and he appreciates all the outbuildings to store the "toys." She personally enjoys her walk-in closet off the master bedroom upstairs, which the couple believes used to be a nursery, but "clothes and shoes took precedence," and that the house is located "just down the road from all of the grandparents, as well as the other relatives...there's always someone nearby to lend a helping hand if we need one." Elsa's happy to spend hours in her play area in the basement, reading books in the living room, or playing in the playground outside and in the garden, and Leinie likes it when she's allowed to set paws in the mud room or has free reign of the barn, also known as "the world's largest dog house."

Brenda stated that their home is decorated "in keeping with how we would normally decorate our home for Christmas - simple, child-friendly, and livable, with a warm and cozy feel. As you enter our home, the first thing you will notice is our Christmas village display in the front entry. This is the first year we have set it up since moving into the home five years ago - guess we needed to have a house tour for an excuse! Also, in the stairway leading to the basement are James's shot glass collection and my magnet collection. We enjoy traveling, and, throughout our travels, these items make nice souvenirs that don't take up much room in our luggage."

Elsa lent a hand to decorating for Christmas, and Brenda and James are excited to see how she experiences it. "It is fun to experience Christmas through her eyes and we try to make moments, like decorating the tree, memorable for her. Her reaction to seeing the Christmas village for the first time was priceless! She wanted the nativity scene that sits in front of the house, there is a large star that shines in the east on the barn, and we have lighted green garland and red bows hanging from the upstairs balcony. After dark, the house is illuminated with gold lights around the eaves. The lights from the Christmas village and tree inside can be seen through the front windows. We want to welcome people into our home and share how we celebrate the holidays."

Visitors may tour the Eickhoff's home at 20385 County Road 117 by purchasing tickets at the Bank Gift Haus in advance or Ed's Museum in Wykoff on Saturday, Dec. 7, then traveling east of Wykoff on County 117 until a right turn onto County 117, proceeding straight until they reach the first yellow farmhouse on the left. The tour begins at 1 p.m. and ends at 5 p.m. Proceeds benefit the Wykoff Historical Society.