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Bowling in style
Two local projects satisfy high design and owner interests


January 2016


A barrel-vaulted ceiling makes use of the long, cavernous space, and varied stonework creates an eclectic effect. Barn doors, at right, open to expose the scoring equipment.

For Bill Koehnlein of Waukesha-based Collaborative Design, completing the bowling alley renovation of this Milwaukee area home was the final piece of the project puzzle. The house was built three years ago, but Koehnlein and the homeowners toyed with how to customize the bowling alley before deciding on a final design concept. "We took a break to get some inspiration on the space, knowing we’d come back, refine it and take it to the next level," he explains. Now the interior designer uses stylistic phrases like "wine cellar grotto," "Old World" and "European catacomb-like" when referring to the finished product — a statement-making space, no doubt.

"(The homeowners) wanted the atmosphere to be really extraordinary and also warm and inviting," says Koehnlein. "You could step back 100 years, and it (the design) would still be fitting." Red Iron Studio in Frederic, Wis., crafted custom forged iron detailing reminiscent of a Medieval dungeon for the room, and lighting was also a key design element. "The room is equipped for midnight bowling, too," adds Koehnlein. "The whole atmosphere changes when the blue lights come on." Ascent Custom Homes, Waukesha, served as the project’s builder.


Paraphernalia relating to the homeowner’s favorite sports teams line the bowling alley lanes’ walls.

Steve Raasch, owner of Great Lakes Bowling in New Berlin, and his staff managed the installation of both bowling alley projects featured in this story. He says Great Lakes Bowling, which also provides equipment for such projects, installed its first residential bowling alley project in St. Louis 20 years ago. "Since that time, the residential bowling alley has become very popular," he says. "Especially over the last five to 10 years."

When discussing the bowling alley in this Lake Country home, Raasch says the homeowner is not your average hobby bowler. "He’s a bowling enthusiast and regularly has his friends over for competitive bowling," he explains. "Generally, they’re used for more recreational purposes, but (the homeowner) has taken his a step further." Raasch and his team also installed a drop-down screen at the far end of the lanes, which can be used as a scoreboard or to display sporting events. "If you’re not bowling or just bowling casually and you wanted to watch a sporting event, you could project onto this screen from any source," he says. M



This story ran in the January 2016 issue of: