Dave Marolt made sure his south Minneapolis home felt like a vacation spot every day. Little did he know his design choices would become a viral sensation following the house's recent listing.
There are eye-catching hand-cut tiles inspired by Latin culture throughout several rooms. Then there's the red archway, similar to torii gates in Japan, in his yard, as well as two tropical-themed fountains — one outside by the front door and the other inside by the kitchen that is surrounded by lush green potted plants.
Marolt also pays homage to Minnesota via the garden he planted with native species that has since been deemed a wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation, he said.
"You get your vacation vibes right in your own house. In the summer there [are] outdoor rooms in the garden, and I have a banquet table out there," he said. "[In the winter] I have that concept, but indoors with the fountain. There's windows surrounding it, making it the perfect place for plants — like a mini jungle."
Rolling up his sleeves
The house didn't always look this way. When Marolt bought it in 2002, the exterior was a dull pink color and the house in general was in distress, he said.
In his early 20s with a smaller budget than he has now, he did much of the work himself. Marolt put in a new roof, adding fascia boards that extend the roof horizontally to match the mantel on the fireplace.
He constructed the fountain in the kitchen, which, as a bonus, drowns noise of airplanes and car traffic, he said.
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Marolt also took out the carpet, revealing the home's original hardwood floors, and refinished them on the top floor and ground level. Then he put in new cabinetry in the kitchen and took out false ceilings, making each room taller in the process.
Doing most of the work himself also allowed Marolt to unleash his creative side. It's hard to miss the colorful blue and white tiles. They're on the stairways, the walls, the fountain, over a doorway and on the kitchen counters.
His choice of installing handmade and hand-cut tiles that are not shaped perfectly and have slight imperfections is a "rebellion against mechanization and uniformity" that is usually found in homes, he said.
"You're getting a true sense of human art," Marolt said. "You're getting a true connection; that's what art is about."
Marolt painted the banner of peonies running throughout the kitchen and dining area, outlining each one in gold paint so it shimmers differently throughout the day as the sun changes position in the sky.
"I want my house to be a pleasant place to be in, and I don't want to live in a world of shades of gray and beige," he said. "I realize it's not for everyone, but I enjoy it myself."
Marolt has found his home an ideal place for reflecting and finding inspiration.
A huge perk of living there is seeing all the animals that come by. Although it's on half a city lot, urban animals of all kinds take advantage of the native plants on the property. For instance, he had the endangered rusty patch bumble bee for a whole season in his backyard. Robins, house wrens, cardinals and barn swallows visit, too.
"It's so nice when you have your coffee and there are birds and butterflies around," he said. "It's a good way to get inspiration and to recharge and focus on your priorities."
In the summers, Marolt closes off his driveway and turns it into a themed container garden. He adds plants according to the year's theme (hummingbird, tropical, roses and pollinators, to name a few), many of which he gives away to neighbors or passersby.
"The garden is a great vehicle for social interaction," he said. Giving out plants "is a great way to get to know your neighbors. It's a great way to passively and actively be part of the community and meet who is around."
Marolt said it's time for him to move onto his next project: a home in need of an update elsewhere in Minnesota. As a result, after 22 years, he has listed his two-bedroom, one-bath home of just over 1,000 square feet.
"I was able to find a hobby farm to relocate to with more space and have a small orchard, have a whole flock of chickens and connect with the land a little bit more," he said. "I've done as much as I can do in the house, and I'm ready for the next challenge and [to] start something fresh."
While Marolt is used to friends coming over and expressing awe over his latest additions, he wasn't expecting the listing to go viral. It's been viewed by hundreds of people online and a Reddit post about the listing has amassed nearly 1,000 reactions in two weeks — with one comment saying, "Wait but I actually love this."
"It caught me off guard how much interest it generated," he said. "That's inspirational. I had no idea that people were into it that much."
Kevin Wagner (952-843-8898, email@example.com) of eXp Realty has the $250,000 listing. At the time of publication, the listing is active with contingency.