All of the bitterness I’ve felt after watching last night’s episode of HGTV’s Design Star evaporated after speaking with this week’s castoff, Trent Hultgren. At the risk of getting all kumbaya on you, his heart and mind are in the exact right place, and his positive attitude is infectious. Before the season started, I picked Trent to win because I was so blown away by his work. Then when the episodes started airing, he came across as distant and reserved…even melancholy. I wondered, are we missing something? Why was he selected to compete for a TV show? It turns out, we were missing Trent altogether. Between the contentious, competitive environment that stifled his creativity, the editing process, and those trucker hats that threw a wall up between Trent and the viewers, Trent’s charismatic personality and wide-ranging passions never saw the light of day. If the Trent I spoke with this afternoon had revealed himself on camera, chances are good he would be a contender for Fan Favorite, if not the whole shooting match.
How does one go from missionary and pastor to interior designer?
I’ve always followed my passions since I was a kid. I got a degree in Theology early on. After about ten years in ministry, I just decided to go and try another passion of mine. I jumped into design and really loved it and have had a blast with it ever since. It’s been about ten years now.
Where did that come from? It’s hard to imagine you as a kid out on the cattle ranch, dreaming about decorating.
I’ve always been inspired by my travels and the beauty of what I’m seeing. My mom was always really good on the cattle ranch, about dialing into the house. Every month it would be different. I think that rubbed off on me. I’ve always walked into a house or a restaurant—and I still do this– I’ll redesign the whole thing in my head. That said, it’s always about way more than design. I really love people and it’s been an opportunity to really get into people’s lives and help them. I recently had this amazing conversation with a new client. She started crying and she really shared her life with me. For me, the link between the ministry and design is very, very close. Design is so much more than just aesthetics. It’s about meeting that person and who they are, finding the best environment for them, and filling that hole in their home.
Do you still get behind the pulpit on occasion?
I really have a passion for getting more into motivational speaking and really encouraging people to live life. I think I’m going to do that in the near future. I love speaking–love to challenge people to move outside of their box and take risks. Even this show was a huge risk—you don’t know the factors and what’s going to be involved. Peter walked on water because he got out of the boat. It’s the same for anybody in life. Whether it’s design or whatever your passions are, just get out there and do it!