A style of its own

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Designed by an architect and built new on an old Shelbyville street, Quintin Biagi and his family mix vision and variety.

By Lisa King

The Biagi home on Brown Avenue in Shelbyville is somewhat like the family who lives there: contemporary, yet traditional, with several features that give it a unique personality all its own.


The first thing that strikes the passerby is that there are plenty of windows and an attractive blend of limestone and natural wood tones.

The wide front porch fits right in with the other houses in the neighborhood, but on closer inspection, an attractive limestone column in its center turns out to be the living room fireplace.

Shelbyville architect Quintin Biagi Jr., who lives in the 9-room, 2-story home with his wife, Sharon, and two children, Lilia, 7, and Gabe, 9, designed and built the house in 1999. Before the couple even got married and before the house was even designed, they knew they wanted to live on Brown Avenue, Biagi said.

“Sharon and I used to take walks in this neighborhood often when we were engaged, and we liked the big front porches and the spacious lots,” he said. “This was one of the only vacant lots still left on Brown Avenue, and we bought it from Mark Scearce’s family. As an architect, being able to blend into the neighborhood was very important to me, but I also wanted to express my own designs. Fortunately, they worked well together.”

Nestled among the many Victorian and Colonial-style houses sprinkled throughout the neighborhood, this 13-year-old structure features cedar shake shingles over most of the exterior, as well as plenty of windows, although not the kind of tall, ornate windows seen in the older homes that often showcase the rooms inside.

“I wanted the living room to be private from the street, so the windows are high,” he said, pointing to a row of “awning” windows running along the top of the room.

The living room in the Biagi house lives up to its name, as the family gathers there often.

“We spend a lot of time in this room,” Biagi said.

A fireplace with a built up hearth graces the wall under the row of awning windows, and large floor-to-ceiling windows overlook the back yard.

“We get a lot of comments on the front door,” Biagi said, opening the oversized door, which pivots on a center hinge when opened, in the manner of a revolving door.

“It’s kind of a greeting to guests,” he said with a chuckle.

Windows in the rest of the house are larger and lower than the living room windows.

“The view is focused more on the back and side yards, and so the windows are larger there, because we really like all the light that comes inform all those windows,” Biagi said.

Lilia Biagi skipped ahead to show off her bedroom, located upstairs and featuring large windows on three sides, all surrounded on the outside by the branches of tall, leafy trees.

“This is my tree house,” she said with a giggle.

Down the hall, Gabe is happy with his bunk bed and an unusual but very attractive hallway of squares of different earth tones leading to his room.

Even the winding staircase features an assortment of windows looking out at the back and side yards and onto a large tree with two swings that are well-used in the summertime.

The spaciousness of the house is emphasized by an open space between the living room and kitchen, with a counter and several stools, the feature that Sharon Biagi said she likes best.

“I like the way it opens the house up, and, that way, I can see the kids from the kitchen,” she said, glancing at the children putting together a puzzle in the living room. “It makes for a togetherness that you wouldn’t get otherwise.”