WESTFIELD, NJ — More than 500 area residents were able to get a glimpse into four exquisite Westfield homes on Saturday during the annual Tour of Notable Homes. In its 36th year, the tour is the largest annual fundraiser for the New Jersey Festival Orchestra.
Each home was staffed with volunteer docents who pointed guests in the direction of interesting features and answered questions.
On Shadowloawn Drive, homeowners Mike and Ellie Mroz, the namesakes of Michael Robert Construction and Ellie Mroz Design respectively, were on hand to talk with visitors about their home, which they designed and decorated themselves.
“The dining room is my favorite area of our home,” said Ellie Mroz. “We decided against a traditional dining room that wasn’t practical for us, and made it more casual for entertaining.” The dining room, right off the kitchen, houses a couch and comfortable chairs, and has a large bar room behind it. Mroz also mentioned the ambient music that plays throughout the home during the day.
It took Mike and Ellie Mroz about a year to complete the home, and they moved in with their two sons in October 2018.
“The flow and proportions were important to me in building this home,” said Mike Mroz. “The lines are clean and different, but still warm. I love what I do for a living, and I enjoy being able to show it off in my own home.”
Kim Schoenknecht was a docent in the Mroz home for this year’s tour and is former president of the Friends of the New Jersey Festival Orchestra, which coordinates the Tour of Notable Homes. While showing off the banana leaf wallpaper and ample walk-in closets in the master bedroom, Schoenknecht also discussed the importance of the event.
“The tour is a fun day for our guests, and the funds raised help the orchestra to continue its performances, as well as its outreach programs,” she said.
Westfield resident and realtor Stephanie Singer noted that her childhood home on Lawrence Avenue was on the tour a number of years ago; she also recalled working at fundraising cocktail parties for the New Jersey Festival Orchestra (then known as the Westfield Symphony) during her youth.
“I love looking at beautiful homes, so I still make it a point to go on the tour each year,” said Singer.
The weather was warm and sunny throughout the day, which helped to make the tour an even better experience. Visitors to the modern home on Wychwood Road enjoyed views of the outdoors through the home’s floor-to-ceiling windows.
Westfield resident Randi Albert has been attending the Tour of Notable Homes for a number of years with her family.
“I love to see the different styles of homes in town,” said Albert, as she toured the bedrooms on the upstairs level of the home on Wychwood.
In addition to funds raised from the tour, the Friends of the New Jersey Festival Orchestra also offered a raffle for two premium orchestra seats for a September performance of the musical Tootsie on Broadway.