Matt's Modern Minimalist Austin Retreat

Matt's Modern Minimalist Austin Retreat

Katie Gard
Mar 1, 2013

Name: Matt Short
Location: Austin, Texas
Size: 1,864 square feet
Years lived in: 7 years; Owned

Just a guy, his dog, and their one-of-a-kind home in the country. Does it get any more idyllic than that? How about if we throw in a really cool kitchen table, soaring vaulted ceilings, and an outdoor stone fireplace for fun?

Matt jumped on the chance to purchase 5 acres of land just outside of Austin in 2000, when his city neighbors first bought some property nearby. Intrigued by the idea of calling a piece of earth his own, this urban apartment-dweller mainly used his plot for weekend camping trips with his buddies.

Then, while he was searching for a house to buy in 2004, Matt realized he could build a custom modern home on the land he already owned for virtually the same price as a smaller, pre-owned home in the city. With the help of an architect friend, a supportive family, and ample imagination, Matt was able to build his modern country retreat — a welcoming home that balances traditional design elements with the natural, simplistic style he loves. And the best part is that his friends no longer need to pack tents when they come!

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Industrial, Modern and Minimalist.

Inspiration: I grew up in the suburbs where most of the houses looked the same. As an adult, I knew I wanted to build something unique, open, and with clean aesthetics. I'm drawn towards minimalist design, but over the years I learned to add more color. Decor-wise, I like everything that's displayed to have meaning. I want most of my pieces to have a sentimental aspect — travel souvenirs, personal photographs, family heirlooms, and art. The chickens are from my grandmother's collection, the old bottles are from my grandfather, and the dishes are from trips to visit my sister while she was living in Japan. Nearly every decorative item means something to me.

Favorite Element: I love the flow from the outdoors to the interior. The windows, high ceilings, and open floor plan bring in plenty of natural light — I rarely need to turn any lights on during the day. The interior living and entertaining areas naturally flow to my covered patio and outdoor fireplace. This is a space where all of my friends love to hang out. I'm out in the country, but very close to all of the conveniences Austin has to offer.

Biggest Challenge: When I first built the house, I had a hard time figuring out how to landscape 5 acres! Since then my challenge has been committing to decor. As a minimalist, I've been pretty slow in getting around to decorating, and it wasn't until a girlfriend told me it needed more "vag" that I started introducing more color and art to make it feel more intimate.

What Friends Say: That I'm crazy to want to sell it! As a single guy, I've decided that living in the heart of the city makes more sense. So I've put it on the market (click here to find out more), but a unique property like this requires a unique buyer. I'm willing to wait it out.

The greatest thing about this house is that it draws people in. My friends are always just showing up — sometimes they're already here prepping for an impromptu dinner party before I even get home. I can have 40 people, 15 kids, and 10 dogs running around, and it's no big deal.

It's a great retreat from the city. Easy commute, close to nature, and has a relaxing feel. I come home every day and it feels like a vacation. The only thing it's missing is a cute girlfriend!

Biggest Embarrassment: The fact it took me so long to get it decorated. I always thought I was more of a minimalist, but the more personal things I added, the more it started coming together, and I was left wondering why I didn't do it years ago!

Proudest DIY: The gallery wall in my bedroom. Every item has some sort of meaning and everything reminds me of my different travel adventures. I ended up with a cool design that I like, which really surprised me. I love how it turned out.

Biggest Indulgence: My kitchen table. It certainly wasn't cheap, but it fits the space perfectly and I was drawn to the natural elements. I also splurged on the gas range because I cook a lot. Moving into my own, custom space from a tiny apartment made me crave a functional kitchen and an open space to entertain.

Best Advice: Don't be scared to give country living a try — you might just like it! (Plus, this place is just outside of Austin, close enough for my friends to still stop by, but far enough to get away from the traffic and congestion.

Dream Sources: I like picking things up when I travel. Also handmade art, pottery, etc. Anything that has meaning to me when I look at it.

Resources of Note:





Thanks, Matt!

(Images: Katie Gard)

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