Rob Marcum’s newly built home has all the characteristics of modern design: clean lines, large windows, innovative building materials, and an expansive interior with an open floor plan. The house is, however, far from ordinary.
“Everything here is so unique and so unusual compared to … what we usually do for Louisville, Kentucky,” said Michael Blacketer, the consulting builder on the project. “It’s got a lot of that west (influence).”
Built to last
The home took about 2 ½ years to build, with nearly eight months spent on the stonework, including the extensive use of Neolith on the kitchen cabinets, bathroom walls, and bathroom cabinets.
“There’s nobody here in Louisville that had even seen Neolith before,” Marcum said of the sintered surface material. Made entirely from natural, recyclable products such as crushed stone, Neolith is created during a process involving intense heat and pressure. The result is a lightweight product that is versatile and UV resistant.
Blacketer says that there is now a local company that offers Neolith but only in smaller formats. Marcum’s home required much bigger pieces, which had to be shipped to Kentucky.
“The advantage of Neolith,” Marcum added, “is it comes in large formats and different thicknesses, and heat doesn’t bother it.”
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Another interesting element of the home not commonly seen in Derby City is its roof structure — or lack thereof. “This is only the second home I’ve built in 43 years that doesn’t have a roof structure,” Blacketer said. “It’s all rubberized membrane. There’s no pitch on the roof.”
The multiple decks throughout the house feature ipe, also known as called Brazilian walnut. The exotic wood from South America is nearly twice as dense as most other woods, and up to five times harder. It is also naturally resistant to weather, insects, rot, and abrasion.
“It is hard as a rock,” Blacketer said, adding that screws had to be used to build the decks, as nails will not penetrate ipe.
The art adorning the home’s interior is just as unique as the building materials used to construct it. In the family room, a life-size metal sculpture of Jesus on the cross hangs from a wall above the TV. One of only two of its kind, the other belongs to Tom Monaghan, the founder of Domino’s Pizza.
“(Monaghan) builds churches,” Marcum told the Courier Journal. “He put that in front of one of his churches, and I commissioned (artist Bill Secunda) to make that for me.”
Marcum also has numerous Native American sculptures throughout the house. On one side of the dining room table, built-in shelving was constructed specifically to hold and display about a dozen of the bronze pieces. Several more on similar shelves are in the gallery area near the garage.
“(Artist John Coleman) makes 20 editions of those, and he lets me have two of them (every year),” Marcum said. “I’ve been buying every edition.”
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Other rooms of the home are decorated with Jean-Michel Basquiat prints and various pieces Marcum picked up at the St. James Court Art Show.
For the love of nature
As extraordinary as the house is, what’s perhaps even more remarkable is the 478-acre, tree-filled lot upon which it sits. “It’s a good place to take walks, I’ll tell you that,” Marcum said. “And we’ve got every kind of animal (here).”
Blacketer explains that when the house was being built, they had to use cranes and an 80-foot boom lift to get everything up and over the trees. Because the home is in such a secluded area, it also has its own private sewer system.
“It (has) its own treatment plant, so when the water comes out and dumps into the creek, you could drink it if you wanted to,” he said. “It (isn’t) dumping (any) chemicals into the water.”
Marcum says that his goal is to keep the property as natural as possible. He doesn’t even cut down dead trees; instead, he leaves them to fall organically.
“We barely cut a tree down other than what we (absolutely) had to (because) it (was) right up against the house,” Blacketer said. “Even the big ones right in the middle of the driveway — which scared me to death — (but) we kept them all in there.”
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Marcum added, “(People) have tried to talk me out of saving the trees, but I say no — we’re not cutting (them) down. “I’m putting (the land into) a conservation easement so it can never be developed.”
Know a house that would make a great Home of the Week? Email writer Lennie Omalza at [email protected] or Lifestyle Editor Kathryn Gregory at [email protected]
nuts & bolts
Owner: Rob Marcum, who works in land investments at MANNOX LLC
Home: This is a 3-bed, 3-and-a-half-bath, 4,200-square-foot, modern home in Jefferson County that was built in 2022.
Distinctive elements: Extensive use of new cladding, Neolith, on kitchen cabinets, bathroom walls, and bathroom cabinets; various sculptures by John Coleman; custom-designed mirrors and art; Holly Hunt and Roche Bobois furniture throughout; custom made doors; custom-drawn, linear, 11-foot fireplace.
Applause! Applause! Michael Blacketer, consulting builder; Finish Design and the Harold Snook family; Tim, Mark, and Zach from Century Entertainment for the appliances and sound equipment; Chris Dixon of Dixon Plumbing; Lance Petty of Thompson & Petty Electric; Accucraft for the custom-drawn, linear, 11-foot fireplace; Christian Condit and Karina Moffett of Global Granite and Marble in Bluegrass Industrial Park for supplying the Neolith; Adam Pardieck for applying the Neolith; artist/sculptor Bill Secunda; flooring and carpet specialists Greg and David Turner; Jim Hayes of A&G Glass for the mirrors; Donna Allen of Ferguson.
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: How Kentucky 4,200-square-foot home is a modern design oasis