• My Journey from Absolute Sound to Custom Home Automation

    Crafting a Smart Home Technology System with a Personal Touch

    As I get close to the ten year mark with Ted Hollander Designs, it’s hard not to get a little nostalgic about how I made it here.

    If you’re an Orlando native or long-time client, you may remember how it all started. For those just learning about us or that haven’t kept up over the years, here’s a little recap.

    My work in the smart home technology industry–particularly the AV part of it–began with Absolute Sound almost forty years ago when I joined the company in 1980.

    At the time, the company was divided in two different sections. There was the general retail operation and the installation department called Absolute Sound & Design, which I took charge of when I first joined the company.

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  • Take Control of Your Energy with Smart Lighting

    How Smart Lighting Control Helps You Save

    If there’s one thing that always comes up when I talk to my clients about integrating smart technology, it’s energy use.

    That’s a perfectly logical place to go — after all, it’s one area where they expect a very concrete return on investment. But saving energy is about more than just shaving a few dollars off your monthly bill.

    The conversation has shifted over the past few years to going green — reducing your energy use to help preserve resources. Whether that’s your reason for wanting to save or you have other things in mind, there are plenty of smart ways to go about it.

    Most times, the easiest place to start is with our clients’ smart lighting control systems. By better managing the use of artificial and natural light in your space, it’s easy to reduce your energy use without having to transform your lifestyle.

    In many cases, these conversations with clients tend to focus on artificial light. How they can reduce their energy consumption through the use of dimmers, LED fixtures, and timers.

    Part of my job is making sure that they don’t forget about natural light and the role motorized shades can play in managing it in a better way.

    Want to learn more about how this technology saves energy in every room of your Lake Mary property? Keep reading to find out.

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  • Don’t Miss Out Because of a Poor Home Networking Setup

    Enhance Your Smart Home with Intelligent Connections

    You can have brand new tires, a fresh paint job, custom seats, the latest GPS technology, and a V8 engine in your car, but if you don’t have a functioning, efficient transmission, you’re not likely to get anywhere very soon.

    Similarly, you can have the coolest 4K TV, the most immersive 3D surround sound system, integrated locks, lights, and thermostats – but if you have a poor home network setup  in your automation system, you’re not going to get much out of it.

    I see this problem often when working in homes throughout Wildermere, FL which rely on old networks to power the latest technology. In many cases, people don’t really understand how their network works, how to improve it, or which connections to prioritize. Especially when it comes to Wi-Fi solutions, it’s important to give clients an extensive, reliable signal they can use throughout the house.

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  • Breaking Down the Latest Trends in Smart Home and A/V Technology

    Here’s the Latest: From The Best of CEDIA to Crestron’s Latest Updates.

    As the owner of Ted Hollander Designs, I’m always trying to stay on top of the latest trends in our industry.

    After all, my job is to deliver you with best-in-class home technology solutions, featuring the latest systems that are sure to elevate your lifestyle.

    And there’s plenty of recent developments for me to cover, from the innovative products on display at this year’s CEDIA Expo in San Diego to the latest Pyng OS updates.

    If you’re looking for the best and the latest audio-video and smart home technology solutions for your home in the Windermere area, my team and I are here to help.

    Below, I dive into the latest trends I’ve observed across the industry.

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  • How to Enjoy High-Performance Audio in Your Outdoor Spaces this Year

    The Secret to Stunning Sound

    As we approach fall here in Winter Park FL, I like to sit in the backyard and enjoy a little bit of fresh air. Maybe listen to my favorite music and grill up a nice dinner for the family.

    But I never liked to sacrifice sound quality for an outdoor setting. And neither do many of my clients.

    If you’re like me, you probably enjoy great sounding high-performance audio while spending time outside. This blog will help guide you to a system that sounds fantastic, doesn’t distract from your landscaping, and performs as well as your dedicated listening room.

    Ready to learn more? Keep reading.

    See Also: How Style and Function Intersect with Your Home Entertainment

    Speakers

    One of the obvious obstacles to building an outdoor system is finding the right speakers. After all, indoor speakers typically feature wooden cabinets, delicate construction, and are meant to be used in controlled environments.

    Outdoor speakers must withstand the elements. That means rust and corrosion proof cabinets and water-tight construction. They also have to overcome a lot more ambient noise – without the benefit of a room’s natural sound reflections.

    Manufacturers like Sonance, Crestron, and Episode have directly addressed this situation and have provided some of the best solutions.

    These new multi-channel bullet-speaker systems are the perfect way to enjoy robust sound outdoors with full coverage.

    Bullet-speakers fire in a single direction, so you can listen louder without disturbing the neighborhood. They generally feature a multi-channel configuration with additional subwoofer, to create an even sound field throughout the area.

    Plus, because the units are very small, they’re easy to hide within foliage to keep your landscaping looking clean and uncluttered, while emulating the look of high-end outdoor lighting fixtures.

    Cabling

    A lot of my clients think setting up a performance audio system outside means investing in a whole new set of AV gear. But in a lot of cases, you can use the same components you use to stream indoors.

    The right cabling can help. Using large gauge direct burial type cables and PVC conduit to each channel will ensure there’s enough bandwidth for lossless audio signals and long usable lifespan.

    Depending on the size of your yard, you may have to install a special commercial style 70 volt amplifier. These are designed to run several sets of speakers over long cabling lengths typical in outdoor installations. Plus, being commercial grade they are extra durable.

    Interfacing the system to a music streaming system like Sonos or Heos means you can fully control your music anywhere in your back yard via your smart phone.

     

    When I talk to my clients, these outdoor sound systems are usually one of their favorite features especially when the crisp fall weather comes around. If you’re ready to give your favorite music some fresh air, I can help you get high-performance audio to all your outdoor spaces just give me a call at 407-448-9500 or fill out this form. 

  • How Style and Function Intersect with Your Home Entertainment

     

    Build a System That Looks as Good as It Plays

     

    If you’ve done any research on home av equipment, you probably get a lot of information on how the devices work.

    Specs, performance reviews, and more tell you all about the quality of the product. You may even think that’s all the AV industry cares about.

    But I work closely with homeowners and designers, and I know just how important it is for any space to look great as well as perform properly.

    When design and technology meet, you build the foundation of a true entertainment system. Below, I’ll show you just how you can get the most out of both aspects.

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  • How Home Lighting Control Transforms Any Space

    Make a House a Home with One-Touch

     

    “What’s the most important piece of smart technology you can add to your home?”

    It’s probably the most common question I hear. Smart automation is fun, but most homeowners don’t want to waste time or money adding unnecessary devices to their property.

    So, what do I tell them? Home lighting control. The right lighting can make any house a home, whether it’s a detached pool house or your second or third property.

    And while plenty of homes in and around Windermere have large windows, without lighting, you can’t enjoy many of the basic aspects of Florida living.

    That’s why I tell my clients, if you’re planning to add smart technology, starting with lighting is a bright idea.

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  • What is the Best Way to Bring Smart Technology into Your Home?

    Find Out Which Features and Products Make the Most Sense

     

    Getting behind any new emerging technology can be intimidating. How can you decide which products or companies to trust? The act of even figuring out what technology you’d want to bring into your home can be tricky. Since “smart technology” has become more affordable than ever and exploded onto the scene over the past five years, we’ve had a lot of clients throughout Winter Park, FL and the surrounding areas reach out wondering what all the fuss is about.

    It’s a conversation that can go in many different directions depending on each family, but there a few things we tend to cover often. None is more common than the DIY vs. professional debate, which we’ll address in the first part of this blog. The goal is to help our clients get a comprehensive home automation solution, rather than a smart home with different devices that don’t communicate well.

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  • When is a TV the Best Choice for Your Home Theater Installation?

    Find Out Why Projectors Are Not for All Home Theater Systems


    When you think of what comprises a home cinema, what first comes to mind?

    For me and many others, it’s the classic projector and screen combination. It’s the most traditional way to enjoy a film, after all.

    But for some home theaters, a projector might not be the best way to enjoy your home entertainment. In those instances, a flat-screen television could be the perfect fit.

    Below, I explore why a TV might be the best choice for the home theater installation in your Lake Mary, Florida house. Keep reading to find out the reasons.

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  • How To Stream Your Favorite Music Throughout Your Home

    Explore the Many Ways Our Home Audio Video Systems Can Help

    For many years now, I have been helping Central Florida homeowners by crafting custom entertainment systems for their properties.

    Over the years, of course, consumer’s wants have shifted. The latest homeowner request: access to their favorite music-streaming services as part of their entertainment systems.

    Luckily, you have many options available to achieve this.

    In this post, I detail some of the ways you can add music-streaming capability to a new or existing home audio video system in your Windemere or Central Florida house.

    Want to find out more? Just keep reading.

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  • The Simplest Way to Make Sure Your Home Stays Safe While You’re Out

    Home Lighting Control Makes Your Winter Park, FL Property Shine

    We’ve all been here: The sun is out, you’ve got nothing to do – it’s time to step out and enjoy some of the local attractions.

    Maybe go to a movie or check out an Orlando theme park. The only problem is that you don’t know when you’ll be home.

    You might not get back until well after dark. Which means your home can be exposed to potential threats in and around town.

    So how do you keep your home safe while you’re out? By using home lighting control solutions.

    And I don’t mean any off-the-shelf solutions. I only work with top quality lighting control products from companies like Crestron, Lutron and RTI.

    Don’t believe me? Here, I’ve put together some tips on how you can use your system to help protect your home.

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  • New Construction? Here’s When to Start Working With a Tech Integrator

    Make Sure Your Next Project Runs as Smoothly as Possible

    I get this question all the time; from clients, builders and other professionals around Lake Mary, FL.

    “When should I start working with a smart home automation installer?”

    The answer I give is simple. I just say “as soon as possible.”

    Sometimes it’s easy to forget that a smart home is bigger than a technology system. It’s a place where families live out their lives.

    The tech should work seamlessly, of course. But when I work with professional contractors from the beginning, that’s when the magic really happens.

    Here, you’ll see some great reasons to start working with a custom integrator at the very beginning of your new home construction.

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  • Why Should You Want a Professional to Help Install Your Home Theater?

     Get the Most Out of Your Windermere, FL Theater or Media Room Installation

    As home theater experts, my team and I occasionally encounter potential clients who previously had theater installations go wrong – whether it was from a DIY project or elsewhere.

    Some common mistakes we’ve observed: Disproportionate display sizes and height, poorly placed and calibrated speakers, and even theaters in which natural light wasn’t accounted for during the initial design.

    We at Ted Hollander Designs always are eager to assist those customers.

    But for your home theater installation, you shouldn’t have to need a revamp of your entire system right away.

    In fact, your theater or media room should be operating to perfection from the moment you watch your first movie.

    A professional home theater expert can ensure that happens. Below, we explore just what working with one can mean for your Windermere, FL project.

    SEE ALSO: Media Space, Home Theater, or Hybrid.  Which One’s Best For You?

    Technology Configuration and Calibration

    Once you determine where you want your theater within your residence, we can begin working with you to build the perfect space.

    If there’s natural light entering the room, we recommend installing motorized window treatments to block any potential glare and impact on picture quality.

    From there, we can help you choose a screen that makes sense according to the size of the room and a seating arrangement from which everyone easily can watch the action.

    Having a professional assist with your home theater installation, though, means you can have access to the ultimate viewing experience.

    For that, I recommend 4K projection and a Dolby Atmos surround sound speaker setup. What does that include? A perfectly clear image quality and an immersive listening experience that even surpasses any commercial cinema.

    in some cases, instead of going with a projector-and-screen combination, the room may be more suited for a large flat panel TV.

    My team and I can help you make those difficult decisions.

    We not only can calibrate each speaker so that it targets sound toward where your seats are, but we also can install every technological component within your theater to perfection.

    By the time your professional installation is complete, all that’s left for you to do is enjoy your favorite film in your new theater.

    Home Theater Automation Control

    I know this first-hand. Independently dealing with every piece of technology can be overwhelming – especially in a media room.

    That’s why I find it especially important to include automation control in home theater installations.

    What does that mean for you?

    My team and I can integrate every piece of technology in your theater – from your lights to your Blu-ray player to your projector – and merge its controls onto one universal system.

    You can access this system from the convenience of an in-wall touchscreen or even your smartphone or tablet.

    With the press of a single button, you can turn off all of the lights, activate your projector and ready your room for a movie. From the same interface, you can choose what you want to watch – whether it’s from your favorite streaming service, Blu-ray disc or digitally stored film.

    The point is, a professionally installed automation system can make controlling your home theater easy and fun so that you can effortlessly watch your favorite film.

    And that’s the whole point of having a home theater in the first place, isn’t it?

    Convenience and Ongoing Maintenance

    I understand why a DIY home theater project might be appealing. There’s nothing like taking pride in your own work.

    But with a professional installation, you can avoid every headache associated with building and maintaining a theater.

    My team and I can maneuver and hide wiring throughout your theater, install every device and integrate each piece into an expansive but easy-to-use control system.

    We also can answer any question throughout the installation process and work with you to fit in any custom components you desire.

    Our work doesn’t end once the theater is complete, either.

    I offer ongoing maintenance so that should anything ever go wrong with your system, my team instantly can help fix it.

    If you have any questions about how we can install a home theater in your Windermere or Orlando FL residence or beyond, I encourage you to reach out to us!

    To get in touch, you can call me at 407.448.9500, or you can fill out a short form here and quickly receive a reply. We look forward to assisting you!

  • Media Space, Home Theater, or Hybrid. Which One’s Best for You?

    It’s Easier than Ever to Find the System That Works Best for Your Winter Park, FL Space

    I’ve been designing, building, and optimizing dedicated home theaters for more years than I’d like to admit. Over those years. trends in home audio video technology and interior design have changed these spaces but the core idea is the same: Create a space that emulates the movie theater experience and eliminates all distractions so the moviegoer can fully enjoy the cinema experience at home.

    This means the client must have a separate room where acoustics, décor, and lighting can be carefully designed to achieve a distraction-free environment. These spaces continue to be popular with those who love movies.

    Over that time, we have also sold and installed countless surround sound systems and the vast majority have been in family rooms or great rooms where it is difficult or impossible to optimize the space for distraction-free movie watching.

    SEE ALSO: 4 Smart Home Theater Installation Upgrades You Can Make Right Now

    These range from OK to great, depending on how media friendly the room is and the quality of components installed. None though approach the performance of a true dedicated theater. In fact, most homes with dedicated theaters also have a family room system for casual viewing.

    But recently there has been a trend to create dedicated spaces that combine the best elements of a private theater with those of a family room system.

    These hybrid rooms are still in dedicated spaces but are designed to be more than a single purpose movie room. Lighting can still be carefully controlled, and attention can be paid to room acoustics, but the seating arrangements and interior décor more closely resemble a conversation oriented gathering room than a multiple row theater.

    These rooms can get very close to the performance of the best home theaters but are much more “friendly” spaces, suitable for gatherings where people can interact and relax. They also are better music spaces in most cases, as you can relax and read in a well-lit and aesthetically pleasing environment.

    Which of these three are right for you?

    If you are considering an upgrade in your home entertainment system, here are some questions to ask yourself:

    Does your home have a room that can be used specifically for media entertainment?

    If yes, a dedicated theater or hybrid may be for you, and the following questions apply:

    • Do you plan to entertain while watching or listening to media?
    •  Will you use your system for purposes other than watching movies (such as gaming or casual sports viewing?)
    • Is flexibility important to you?
    • Do you want to mimic the cinema experience?
    • Do you already have a space in your home where the family gathers socially to watch TV or play games?

    Think about these questions, and if you’d like our expert guidance we’d be happy to arrange for a free consultation.

     

  • How to Choose the Right Motorized Shades for Your Space

    Home Lighting Control Solutions for Your Lake Mary, FL Home

    Home lighting control is essential for two things: saving you energy and making your property gorgeous. And the easiest way to do both at once is by using natural light. Whether you want to impress your guests with a gorgeous interior design with just the right amount of sunlight or reduce lighting costs without raising the amount you spend on the thermostat, motorized window shades help you achieve these goals. In this handy guide we help you choose shades for your home. From the style to the control solution, check out what it takes to optimize the natural light in your Lake Mary home.

    See Also: 4 Smart Home Theater Installation Upgrades You Can Make Right Now

    Step #1: Select a Style

    You can install formal looking draperies for an elegant style. Or you can select discreet roller shades to keep attention on some other design choices. With dual roller shades, you can even have both at once. Whatever you choose, your shades can’t help but define the style of your room.

    Of course, they also have to be functional. If you’re trying to keep your living room cool while illuminating it with sunlight, then heavy curtains won’t be very functional. Instead, you’ll want some light sunshades that filter natural light through. You have to select a solution that not only looks good but fulfills the function you have in mind.

    Step #2: Choosing a Fabric

    Once you’ve selected a style of shade, it’s time to choose your fabric. For instance, in a northern Florida home you get to enjoy warm summers and temperate winters, so sunshades are often a perfect solution. They help you minimize your reliance on lighting fixtures while still keeping your home temperature at a constant, comfortable level.

    Variables like the openness factor and color can impact how functional your window treatments are down the line. A greater openness factor means more light can filter through and you get a better look at your majestic views.

    Pro tip: it may seem counter intuitive, but darker colors are often more beneficial to your spaces. While homeowners tend to like the look of light colored shades in the showroom, dark shades frequently present less glare and enhance visibility when faced with direct sunlight.

    Step #3: Automate and Integrate 

    What your shades look like and how they keep your rooms cool are important factors, but they’re also only part of the equation. You also want your automated shades to work with the rest of your smart home system to help you save energy. Your window treatments should work with your smart lighting and thermostat for hands-free convenience.

    When you integrate a motorized shading system, you don’t have to keep your eye on the energy bill each month. You can install sensors that monitor the temperature and amount of light in each room. Once the sensors detect conditions that cross their pre-determined thresholds, your system can spring into action.

    On a day-to-day basis you can also upgrade from manual control. We help you find the ideal way to manage your shades whether it’s via a wireless remote, mobile app, or even voice control.

    Want to integrate shades that are both stylistic and efficient? Ted Hollander Design can help. Contact us for more information today!

  • 4 Smart Home Theater Installation Upgrades You Can Make Right Now

    Spruce up Your Home Media This Season

    Now that the summer has gone and the cooler months are just ahead of us, you may want to take a break from the hassle and kick back with some good entertainment. But if you’re planning to get the most out of the upcoming seasons, you may need a home theater installation upgrade. But you don’t have to worry – there are plenty of options to improve your system that won’t break the bank. So whether you’re glued to the TV every Sunday for football season or you’re looking to gather the family for some holiday cheer, this blog is for you. Read on for more.

    See Also: How to Embrace the Power of Smart Home Technology

    Enhance Your Viewing a 4K Projector

    If you’re like us, you need to see every detail of the movies you watch. And when you see one of your longtime favorites in a new format, it’s like seeing it for the first time. That’s why a high-quality projector is the perfect addition to any theater system. This one simple device amplifies your viewing experience by capturing more detail and offering related technologies like high dynamic range that make the image on screen look more realistic. How do you know which one to use? Ted Hollander Designs finds the ideal product for your space based on your space, lighting, and stylistic limitations.

    Get Bolder Images With the Right Screen

    The right screen can also make all the difference in your theater. For instance, we love many of the modern high-contrast units available today because they help manage ambient light situations. Instead of a typical white screen, high-contrast screens are usually gray or black, so they make a bold statement when you’re not using them. They also make projected images look clearer and more vibrant even when there are a lot of windows in the room. We work with you to find the ideal size, color, and fabric.

    Wireless Audio for Surround Sound

    Think an epic home theater sound system has to include massive installation speakers and hard-to-use controls? Think again: you can enjoy perfect surround sound with a wireless audio system. Wireless is a great way to go if you don’t want the hassle of heavy installation, but still want to enjoy a system that makes your movies and shows sound amazing.

    Connect It All With a Smart System

    Forget about a standard universal remote. Smart home manufacturers offer simple controls over all of your connected technology, so it’s the perfect addition to any home theater system. With the touch of a button, your home theater can set up perfectly – the screen can lower and the projector can start. The sound system starts up. And you can even adjust the lights and shades if you integrate those as well.

    Are you interested in upgrading your home theater installation? Contact Ted Hollander Designs for more information today!

  • How to Embrace the Power of Smart Home Technology

    Make it Possible with a Professional Smart Home Automation System

    Due to our history with Absolute Sound, many of our clients know us best for our custom entertainment solutions. Within those solutions, we typically incorporate universal remotes to manage the screen, surround sound, and AV devices from one place. Did you know you could extend that to other technology in your Central Floridahome as well? Through our Crestron smart home automation systems, we make it easy for you to access lights, climate, entertainment, and more from the device of your choice. In this blog, we’ll explain what home automation is and the technology it lets you control.

    What is Smart Home Automation?

    A home automation system places all of your technology under one umbrella, so it’s easy for you to manage it through a dedicated touchpad, elegant keypad, smart remote, or mobile app. The smart component has to do with these various subsystems—lighting, shading, and entertainment— communicating with each other to create a ‘smarter’ environment in your home.

    Your home automatically prepares for you according to your favorite settings through the use of scenes. These scenes are activated by motion sensors, voice commands, or through your chosen control device. For example, a “Welcome” scene turns on the lights, lowers the thermostat, and turns on the TV to your favorite news network when you get back from work.

    What Technology Can You Include?

    For our smart home systems, we partner with Crestron, the industry leader in both residential and commercial automation. One of the reasons we work with them is that they offer the most flexibility when it comes to incorporating the technology and devices you love most. Below we highlight two of the most popular ‘subsystems’ in our automated homes:

    • Lighting and Shading: From security to interior design, both natural and artificial light plays a pivotal role in your home. We install light fixtures and motorized shades that you can manage easily from a touchpad, remote, keypad, or smartphone. Save your favorite settings for any activity to pull up quickly at a later time.
      • Popular Scene: A ‘vacation’ scene makes your home look occupied while you’re away on vacation. Have lights turn on and off and shades open and close to simulate activity. It’s a great way to protect your home from intruders.
    • Home Entertainment: We typically include entertainment within our smart home packages in the form of media rooms, private theaters, or whole home audio. Make it easier to enjoy your favorite movies, TV shows and music at any time by having access with just the press of a button or a simple voice command.
      • Popular Scene: A ‘movie’ scene in your media room or theater closes the shades, dims the lights and turns on the TV to your favorite streaming service. All you have to do is bring the snacks and decide what you want to watch.

    Wondering if smart home automation is the right fit for you? Set up an initial discovery meeting where we can work with you to figure out what technology solution makes the most sense for your home. All of our solutions are custom designed to meet our clients’ unique needs. To get started, you can give us a call at 407-448-9500 or fill out our online contact form.