COLTS NECK, NJ – This New Jersey home wasn’t dubbed the “Christmas House” for nothing: the sprawling North Pole-inspired estate features four large bedrooms and four and a half baths as well as 238 angels, 115 religious statues, 38 life-size Santas and 14 nativity scenes. For $ 2,199,999, it can be yours just in time for the holiday season.
According to owners Chris and Janet Munger, a sibling duo who were also the designers of the 1 Rivers Edge Drive property, vacation decorations are kept front and center year round, and the collection keeps growing. .
The domain’s Realtor.com listing has attracted a lot of attention to social media in recent days – especially from those calling the home’s penchant for all marble and holiday decor – with headlines like these appearing on sites ranging from Gizmodo to McMansion Hell:
- “Christmas threw all over this Colts Neck mansion”
- “This is what interior design looks like when you have too much money and you really love Christmas”
- “We are interrupting this broadcast to bring you a particularly cursed house”
But for Chris and Janet, the 5,420 square foot home tells a decidedly different story than a vacation-themed House of Horrors.
“It doesn’t look like a house, but it’s a house”
Chris, a longtime director of General Motors, and Janet, a retired educator, moved to Colts Neck in 1998 from Montville to build their dream home after their mother passed away. The couple decided to carefully build a home in Monmouth County to be closer to extended family in central Jersey, with the goal of creating an extraordinary space to accommodate family, friends and colleagues.
Janet fondly remembers inviting alumni, parents and school staff to a whimsical paradise filled with toys, garlands and holiday decorations:
“I never had children, and my brother Chris and his mate Suzie never had children. So all the children I taught became my children,” Janet told Patch. . “The staff, the teachers, all have become family. These are always precious moments that will always stay with me.”
Chris also remembers long meetings, lunches, dinners at home with colleagues, whom he often called his “second family”.
“Our parents grew up during the Depression,” Chris said. “Our mom was all about family; our whole family got together every Sunday. Family was a huge thing. Our thing is that whoever is in our life is part of our family, and they are treated like. that.”
“Our dad, our aunts, our uncle, we all hung out here. We nicknamed it the senior village. We had a lot of fun with them,” Chris added. “You see all the loved ones you lose. We’re here for a very short time, that’s life. You see everyone weaken, you see family shrink. But the house isn’t the real one. life: a FAO Schwarz is a fantasy world. It doesn’t look like a house, but it’s a house. It’s just part of you. “
As the principal – and, ultimately, superintendent of a nearby public school district – Janet recalled how delighted she was to bring a similar whimsical experience to all of her young students at school. Janet once cited transforming a school building during the summer months into a “Disney World adventure”, complete with character and candy murals as well as Christmas trees, Santa displays and decorations. Christmas sings.
“I have always, always been involved in education. Throughout my life, I have always wanted learning to be enjoyable for children and everyone who was involved in teaching children. “said Janet. “I wanted them to have everything at their fingertips, at their disposal. To make learning fun, to make them eager to learn.”
‘A beauty that everyone can appreciate’
Chris and Janet grew up in a blue collar family in Essex and Bergen County, raised by their father, a WWII veteran and foreman, as well as their beloved mother. According to Janet, it was the family’s Italian heritage that sparked the owners’ love for marble and stonework, which can be seen in virtually every room in their current home.
“Our ancestors are all from Italy, and I’m not sure if it’s just transcended by genes, but I’ve always loved marble,” Janet said. “I love the architectural details and the design. I love the cathedrals, the old structures that we don’t see when we go to Europe. I’ve always loved St. Patrick’s Cathedral, nowadays everything looks more modern. I tried to reproduce our house in the same way, bringing marble, stone, religious statues. “
Along with their shared love for the Old World, the Mungers uniquely designed their home to meet the anticipated needs of loved ones: instead of a master bedroom, it was decided that an additional master bedroom for Janet would be built. as well as a guest suite (an additional suite was added later for their father on the first floor). The 65-foot pool is designed for kids and seniors alike, all slight design choices that echo the same message: everyone is welcome.
Over the years, the Mungers have indeed welcomed everything to their Neverland, even sweeping entire shops of Christmas decorations and buying individual gifts for teachers, staff and staff to make it feel like Christmas anytime. the year at home.
“After ordering 50 or 75 or 100 of this special crystal vase or crystal picture frame or piece of china, Chris would pick up all the gifts after they were wrapped and deliver them to me at school in his vehicle which, luckily had always been a very large GM or GMC SUV
truck to accommodate them all, ”said Janet.
And what about the Mungers’ shared love for the holiday season? It comes down to family, the duo said.
“There is so much kindness, love, generosity and warmth,” Janet said. “These are people who take care of each other and love each other, and that’s what I always try to spark and promote with all the kids I’ve taught. Wanting that love to be shared – just like now at Christmas, we talk about goodwill towards man and love. That’s how I always wanted it to be, to be able to be, for people to be able to show their best side. I try to make our home as well as the school a model of that. A beauty that everyone can appreciate, every day. “
A fairy tale ending
The 1 Rivers Edge Drive home went on sale last month with a price of over $ 2.1 million. It is presented as a “custom-built colonial ensemble” with architectural details thought through to the last stone. Next to the list are photos of marble bathrooms, sleek master bedroom suites, and, yes, a gym sauna with a giant Christmas wreath perched on its entryway.
The Mungers have shared 20 years in a field that they have literally built from top to bottom. Joined by students, teammates, friends, parents, aunts, uncles and even their father in his last days, the house brought to the sibling team untold amounts of fond memories – memories that they will bring with them to their soon-to-be-built area in Florida.
“We never planned to leave,” Janet said. “Honestly, we love him here, and we always thought we would be here… we have a younger brother, who retired, and he had said to both of us, ‘It would be wonderful if we could all move out. and live together in Florida. ‘With that, we decided that we would all have homes built in Florida. “
“In the end, we had some wonderful memories, but the house can’t kiss you,” Chris added. “Home can’t love you. Home is what you make it. Home is what you make of it. I hope we have that inspiration and that feeling in any home we live in.”
Chris and Janet plan to spend their days with their brother, along with Chris’ partner Suzie, on the sunny Palm Coast beaches in their brand new homes by the summer of 2021. They will be bringing some of their precious Christmas gear. and will donate the items they need to leave behind. The duo shared the bittersweet emotions associated with leaving their beloved home:
“Home is something that brought a lot of joy to a lot of people, but hopefully in Florida I can golf again, we’ll be watching Hallmark a lot with my sister,” Chris said. “No one has watched more Hallmark movies than us. You watch Hallmark and you get a feel for our house. It’s a fairy tale, it’s a fairy land.
“It’s a really nice setting: no one is killed, no one is hurt. They live happily ever after.”