Trent’s Relaxing, Beach-like Retreat

published Jun 16, 2011
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Name: Designer Trent Hultgren
Location: South — Austin, Texas
Size: 623 square feet
Years lived in: renting, 3 weeks

We don’t think we’ve ever seen better evidence that you can design a small home affordably, beautifully and stylishly than with the Austin apartment of designer, Los Angeles transplant and former HGTV star Trent Hultgren. Full of inspiration, Trent didn’t just let us photograph his apartment, he gave us ideas on how to create a meaningful-to-you, personality-filled home on a budget that will invigorate, calm and inspire you day after day.

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As the founder of Cabana Casa, Trent narrows down a client’s style, transforming homes into retreat-like spaces that are like walking into a luxury hotel. Trent believes your home should feel like a vacation every day — a philosophy we can get behind! It was this refreshing outlook on design and an impressive portfolio of work that nabbed him a spot on last year’s HGTV “Design Star.”

Though he works on projects from coast to coast, Trent recently made the move to Austin. It took him only three weeks to transform this outdated and small apartment into an amazing beach-like retreat. He even started with an almost blank slate — only bringing with him what he could pack in his small car! The rest he found scouring local resources and keeping an open mind for items that could achieve the look he’s aiming for. Not just content with delighting one of your senses, Trent designs spaces with sounds, tastes and smells in mind — tropical music and scents greeted us when we photographed his place. Ready for the grand total? Just over $3000 for an entire gorgeous apartment filled with furniture, art, accessories, lighting, personality and style!

An avid traveler who’s visited 38 countries, Trent’s surrounded himself with exotic treasures and affordable, thrifty finds. Bright, full of fresh air and fun details, Trent’s Austin apartment is a perfect fit for his personality, and we were blown away with how great it all came together. His furniture makeovers were simple and effective, his attention to details like DIY art, natural textures and themed books were excellent and frankly his balcony is nicer and more fun than larger-sized ones we’ve seen before. We certainly found inspiration and ideas from his place, but also came to the realization that sometimes calling in a professional is worth it, especially if they can help you find thrifty and affordable items like Trent did!

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Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Beach Hotel meets travel. My philosophy on life is that you are here for a short time. I firmly believe everyone on any budget should live better then your favorite vacation. I’ve always decked my place out when I’ve rented. In designing both multi-million dollar and budget homes — every home should make you feel like you have entered your favorite oasis. From the color of the room to fresh flowers, candles to a hammock — you should walk into your home as though you have entered your favorite vacation spot. It could be an Italian Villa, a beach bungalow in Hawaii, lodge in Aspen or an oriental retreat in Asia. It’s what inspires you to breathe, relax, entertain and fill you up after a long day.

Inspiration: Travel and ocean

Favorite Elements: Bedroom and Hammock

Biggest Challenge: None

What Friends Say: Feel like they’re in a hotel

Biggest Embarrassment: Exterior color of apartment

Proudest DIY: Putting together furniture/painting old pieces and adding new knobs to old pieces

Biggest Indulgence: Accessories

Biggest Advice: Always go with a style that makes you feel great/alive/at your favorite hotel and take the style from the entrance of your property to the interior of the home.

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Resources of Note:


    • Bed and couch from Ikea
    • Ottoman from Far Out Home Fittings, reupholstered $25
    • Two bedside tables from Far Out Home Fittings, painted and new hardware $10 each
    • Desk from Far Out Home Fittings $50

Rugs and Carpets:


    • Surf art: Trent Hultgren from old surf magazines
    • Photos: Trent Hultgren on trips I’ve taken around the world



    • Desk lamp from Ross $16
    • Re-painted existing hanging pendant white


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    • Blue stripped pillow from Home Goods $16.50
    • Blue bedroom frame from Z Gallerie $12.95
    • Blue bedroom Morrocan pillow from Z Gallerie $50
    • Shelving for books from Ikea $15
    • Glass hanging jar from West Elm $6.99
    • Baskets from TJ Maxx $6.99 – $17
    • White rocks in fireplace and sand on Patio from Home Depot
    • Blue/green glassware from Target $3.99 each
    • Vintage soda spritzer bottles from a thrift store 2 for $30
    • Bathroom wood/silver and Seashell mouthwash jar from Ross $4.99 and $6.99
    • Antique mirror $2.50 at a flea market (Mirror purchased in another frame at Ross for $9.99 and then added into antique mirror)
    • Frames from Aaron Brothers
    • Chalk board paint and boards from Home Depot $11
    • Moroccan Lamp over desk from Africa
    • Antique early 1900s urns from London
    • Hammock from Guatemala
    • Hanging horses on patio from Thailand
    • Cement urns from Flea markets
    • The rose bowl and the ocean jars from the Seychelles and Hawaii.
    • Material for chair, hammock and ottoman $5.99 yard

Thanks, Trent!

Images: Adrienne Breaux, before photos Trent Hultgren

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