‘Sports Barn’ Features Theater, Basket­ball Court, Bowling Alley and More

A Connecticut family takes home entertainment to a whole new level with a 12,000-square-foot utopia.


Photo by Steve Bering Wegner.

Come to Robert and Brenda Shaw’s home in southern Connecticut for a family gathering, and you may not spend much time in the main house. Their 20 grandchildren certainly don’t. They’re too busy with activities out in the detached barn. The Shaws’ three-level, 12,000-square-foot post-and-beam-style barn features a 20-seat home theater, a basketball court, a stage with Broadway-style lighting, a bowling alley, a golf simulator, a game room, a gym, lounge areas, an ice cream bar, a master suite, seven baths, a kitchen, and boys and girls bunk rooms for the entire brood.

“We like to gather our whole family once or twice a year. We think family is important, and that’s what life is all about,” says Robert. “While our home isn’t small, we just could not accommodate that many people. We had a ski house out in Deer Valley, Utah, with a basketball court and some of the things we have here. So we just expanded [on that idea] for our home base.”

Did they ever. Not only does the “Sports Barn” feature activities for nearly any interest, it’s also wired for fun with a home theater, an eight-zone audio system, automated lighting and heating that can be controlled from the main house, security cameras so the elders can check on everyone from the main house, and separate lighting and audio systems for the stage in the gym.

The audio/video, lighting and heating are all controlled by a Crestron system, with in-ceiling and in-wall Bay Audio speakers planted everywhere but the bunk rooms. Brian Jaworoski of electronics installation firm Cabling Technologies likes the Bay Audio speakers because of their high quality and their aluminum construction, which allows them to fit flush with wall and ceiling surfaces.

Jaworoski also worked with Richard Charschan of Acoustic Smart in Merrick, NY, to design the rustic but high-tech home theater. Though it has 20 seats, the theater can fit 33, Robert reports. The room is equipped with a Digital Projection projector, a 130-inch screen and a powerful JBL Synthesis II audio system. Acoustic Smart added the necessary acoustic treatments to keep the room sounding great. “The theater is incredible for watching movies or a football game,” says Robert. Even when the kids and grandkids aren’t around, Robert and Brenda go there to watch TV, some sports or a movie.

Next to the theater is a golf simulator from Full Swing Golf that allows players to hit balls into a special video screen as a computer tracks the ball’s speed and spin to simulate shots on some of the country’s best-known courses.

And when it’s time for a break, the gang can always sidle up to the ice cream bar beneath the circular staircase made of wooden logs. “While it’s big, there are intimate places [in the barn],” says Robert. “It’s very warm and inviting.”

More Photos


The Sports Barn’s 20-seat home theater is equipped with a Digital Projection projector, a 130-inch screen and a JBL Synthesis II audio system. Photo by Steve Bering Wegner.


“Sports Barn” is a literal moniker: the 12,000-square-foot structure houses a basketball court (top), a bowling alley and a gym. Photo by Steve Bering Wegner.


At the bottom of a circular log staircase is an ice cream bar. Audio throughout the Sports Barn comes from Bay Audio speakers and a central audio system. Photo by Steve Bering Wegner.

Integrators and Installers Used in this Project

  • Systems Design and Installation: Cabling Technologies, Norwalk, CT
  • Home Theater Design: Acoustic Smart, Merrick, NY
  • Stage Lighting and Audio: Tirschwell & Co.
  • Builder: Peter Schlubach Custom Builders, Trumbull, CT, 203-445-9296
  • Interior Design: Winebrenner Designs, 585-241-0643

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