Decorations never adorn the same place twice at the Lisa and Bouck Gottschalk home northwest of Maquoketa.
“I never do anything the same way twice because I often like to invite people over for a cup of coffee or something and I don’t want [the décor] to look the same,” Lisa Gottschalk said while sitting in front of a roaring gas fireplace, with a view of farm fields and woods outdoors and snowmen and cardinals indoors.
Meanwhile at Wickerwood, the Joel and Melissa Wood home located east of Baldwin, every piece tells a story of the family’s life.
Joel fell in love with walnut furniture, building it and refinishing it, while he was in 4-H. He and Melissa built, then remodeled, their Victorian home, which holds more than a century of antique walnut
furniture decked out for the holidays.
The Gottschalk and Wood homes are two of seven on the Christmas Tour of Homes from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9. The holiday event is a Friends of Maquoketa Public Library fundraiser to benefit the library.
Spend an afternoon touring the farm home of Wickerwood, two historic homes on West Pleasant Street in Maquoketa, an “outdoors brought indoors” themed home (bears included), a Christmas village display, and more.
Homes on the tour are:
• Joe and Margaret McCarthy, 5283 Highway 61, Maquoketa
• Sarah Jones and Will DeMauro, 209 E. Pleasant St., Maquoketa
• Broderick and Annette Shaw, 406 W. Pleasant St., Maquoketa
• Joel and Melissa Wood, 4925 67th Avenue, Baldwin
• Troy and RaeAnn Thede, 607 W. Summit St., Maquoketa
• Lin Redling, 515 S. Fourth St., Maquoketa
• Lisa and Bouck Gottschalk, 15799 150th St., Maquoketa
Tickets are for sale at Maquoketa Public Library. All proceeds will benefit the library. Advance discount tickets cost $20, a savings of $5 on the day of the event.
When you need a break, join Friends members in the library’s downstairs community room for warmth, refreshments and restrooms.
Gottschalk loves decorating for the four seasons.
“My friends all know it really does not matter what season. I just love to decorate all year long,” she said.
And she makes Christmas decorating easy.
“I usually use mostly snowmen, winter things, so they can stay up all season long,” she explained.
Happy snowmen and brilliant red cardinals bedeck both levels of the Gottschalks’ rural home. Be sure to ask about some of the wreaths and barn and cardinal paintings in the home – Gottschalk painted them herself.
Her most prized holiday décor, however, could not be bought.
“We have two villages, and they are probably the most special to me,” she said. “They belonged to Ronnie and Rosemary Till of Andrew, who were very good friends of ours growing up. When they passed away, their kids passed them on to us because they knew they couldn’t keep them.”
The Dept. 56 village pieces line the space above the Gottschalks’ kitchen cabinets and trickle downstairs along a dresser in one of the guest bedrooms.
Gottschalk devoted a few days a week to her holiday decorating. This year’s theme is outdoor rustic. And there’s a little something in every room of the house, which will be open for the tour.
“My husband loves it but doesn’t know why I put so much effort into it,” she said.
Sister and brother Maranda and Mayson Wood will talk your ear off about all the antiques and family heirlooms woven into the fabric of the Victorian home they live in with their mom and dad, Joel and Melissa. Joel was working on fellow home tour participant Lin Redling’s house and volunteered to show off their home.
“He thinks the house is finally the way he wants it,” Melissa said.
Every corner and every room, even the rounded turret visible from the highway, abounds with walnut furnishings and Christmas décor.
The kids almost argue over which piece to show first.
Mayson sleeps each night in his great-grandfather’s bed. Just down the hall, Maranda sleeps in a walnut four-poster the family discovered, with the antique desk Joel refinished just across the room.
A fire will soon blaze from the living room fireplace fronted by an almost floor-to-ceiling mantel the Woods’ bought on eBay from California. Joel built the mantel backing, which hides the TV behind a two-way mirror.
The walnut buffet arrived at 2 a.m. on Christmas Day not too long ago. The family is searching for a pump organ to finish out the downstairs turret, which houses a burgeoning Christmas tree in the window, decked out with homemade ornaments that Melissa crafted.
Melissa’s great-grandmother’s sewing machine resides in the couple’s bedroom (inside the upper part of the turret). The machine has the classic decorative metal base in a walnut case.
“It’s rare that the sewing machine would have been in walnut and matches the rest of the house,” Melissa said.
One of Mayson’s favorite Christmas decorations is a tree his father built. Mayson decked it out with his multi-color insulator collection and set it next to the fireplace.
Melissa quilts, sews and cans “just like our families did years ago. I made the majority of our curtains and the flower arrangements, and we’re teaching our kids to have those same skills.”
Victorian decorations are interspersed with modern décor throughout the two-story home.
The Gottschalks and the Woods are excited to open their homes to the public Sunday and to help the library.
“They do so many great things — programs, speakers, a fully-stocked children’s library,” Gottschalk said. “The library does so many things and people don’t realize much of it is because of the Friends.”