By Gabrielle. Photos by Sarah Knight Photography.

When Hillary first wrote to me about her home, she mentioned solar panels and I was hooked. Someday I want a home that’s run on solar power, but until then I’ll just have to live vicariously through people like Hillary!

Another draw was her and her husband’s very, very different design preferences. For example, this is a tee shirt available in Hillary’s shop. And this is one from her husband’s shop. I love them both. But how do these different styles merge in the home? You’ll see. Friends, please welcome the Barney family!

Q: Tell us all about your family.

A: Hello! We are a family of four, living in the Salt Lake City, UT area. I am the Creative Director for Petite Lemon, and my husband runs his online shop, Blonde Grizzly.

We have two daughters, Lily and June. Lily is our three year old. She is full of energy, very willful, and our social butterfly. She amazes me every day how smart and creative she is. June is 11 months and I can’t believe how much our hearts have grown having her in our lives. She is all smiles, very mellow, and always on the move.

We also have a little chihuahua mix named Bear Grylls. We got him as a puppy, and I love that my children have grown up with this furry friend of ours. He is a total sweetheart and a true lap dog.

Q: How did this house become your home?

A: We had some ups and downs in selling our previous home and getting into this home. Our previous house went on and off the market a couple times. I went through my first pregnancy and had Lily while trying to sell our house. My nursery was in boxes up until about three weeks before I was due because we were sure we could get our house sold before Lily came. We took the house off the market just before we had Lily and took a break from all the house stuff. When Lily was six months old, we put the house up for the last time. It sold within a month.

Once our house sold, we looked and looked for the perfect house in Salt Lake. We wanted an older home with lots of charm. I pictured us in a bungalow style house with hardwood floors and fruit trees. We looked at lots of homes like this and we liked them, but nothing felt like ours.

I was looking online one day and came across this development we are in now…brand new homes just outside of Salt Lake. I called my agent right away and we met to look at the model home. We fell in love. It was the exact opposite of what we thought we wanted. I actually loved the modern look of the houses and they had solar panels…major bonus! As we were talking to the agent, she told us there was only one lot available. We had to act quickly and decided to lock in. We are so glad we did. The building process went very smoothly and we were in our house about eight weeks after the sale of our other house.

We bought the house with an unfinished basement and went through the process of finishing the basement last summer. My dad helped us frame and sheetrock the whole space. We are very grateful for his help. We love having the extra space, a guest bedroom, and my office in the basement.

Q: What makes you love the place you live?

A: We love the Salt Lake City area. The mountains are gorgeous and we like having four distinct seasons. Although every winter I do ask myself why we don’t move to the beach! The majority of our family lives within a three hour drive from us. We love being close to family.

Our neighborhood is new and we have made great friends within our neighborhood. We have neighborhood parties and everyone looks out for each other. I love the sense of community here. I don’t think I have felt that since I moved out of my childhood home.

I work from home and have a nanny stay with the girls while I am working. Our home is where we live, play, work, etc. I want it to be a place where everyone is comfortable and filled with creative play. We are surrounded by things we love in our home and they have a different memory attached to them.

Q: What was the one design element that you wanted to be sure your family home included as it relates to living well with your kids?

A: Our previous home was a split level, and I always felt more separated in that home. I love the open spaces in our home and that all of our bedrooms and main living areas are on the main level. The basement is great for entertaining and having guests stay. My husband and I are both collectors and we have our collections displayed throughout our home.

I tried to incorporate some area of play into the design of each space. The play kitchen in the kitchen/dining room area is a favorite spot. We have toys tucked away in drawers throughout the house. Then in the basement, we converted the closet under the stairs to a little playhouse. The girls’ rooms are filled with fun artwork and are set up to encourage play.

Q: What’s your favorite time of day in your home?

A: My favorite time of day right now is the morning. Our nanny comes in at 10 to watch Lily and June. So from about 7 am until 10, it’s just us. Sometimes this time is filled with fits and crying while other times it filled with joy and laughter. These little girls are so unpredictable!

Q: You run a company called Petite Lemon. Tell us all about it!

A: I am the Creative Director at Petite Lemon and it’s so much fun to be a part of. We create joy and fun for little ones through personalized decor and apparel. We believe every occasion should be a memorable one, gift giving should be keepsake giving, and decor should be as colorful and unique as kids themselves.

Q: Your husband’s taste is a little different from your aesthetic. How do you merge styles so seamlessly? How have you influenced each other?

A: My husband is more in to pop culture and “geek” art and I love everything cute. I am not 100% sure how it all merges, but somehow it does. Our styles cross here and there, and I feel we both appreciate what the other one likes.

Although there have been times that I have vetoed some things that he has wanted to put up because they are too scary, and he has vetoed some of my choices because they are too cute. (I didn’t know that was possible!)

Q: What has been the biggest gain from living in a solar powered home? How does it affect your daily life as a family? 

A: We have always tried to be conscious of the environment: recycling when we can, using reusable containers, etc. So having the solar panels on our home was just another step. That was one of the draws for us to buy this house. It cuts our power bill down and it’s fun to see our statement at the end of the month telling us how many trees we have offset.

We don’t have enough panels to run our whole house right now. Eventually we would love to purchase more, but that is down the road a bit.

Q: What has been your favorite part about living with your own kids? What has surprised you the most about being a mom? Is there a development stage that’s long gone that you miss?

A: I love their little personalities. I love seeing them grow, progress, and express themselves. I love listening to Lily talk and seeing how curious June is. She is into everything right now. It’s so much fun and exhausting at the same time. I miss cuddling my babies, but I do not miss those sleepless nights! I loved Lily’s 18 month to two year old phase, and am anxious to see June at this age.

When I was pregnant with June, I wasn’t sure how I could love another child and give them as much attention. I loved being Lily’s mom and loved our time together. When June was born, immediately my heart grew. Somehow, as parents, we find the love and time for each of our kids. Our hearts grow bigger and priorities change.

Q: Please finish the sentence: I wish someone had told me…

A: I feel like I have gotten a lot of great advice for parenting and just growing up, so I am going to rephrase the question. I wish I had listened to this advice that had been given to me: Slow down, enjoy the moment!

It’s so true and it’s taken me three years of having kids to finally catch on. I still have moments where I just want to go go go and get things done. I am slowly replacing some of those with sit down and play, enjoy the moment.

Our flower beds aren’t perfectly weeded, sometimes we have Little Ceasar’s pizza for dinner, and beds are almost never made, but we are enjoying our family and that is what is important to us.

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You know what, Hillary? You’re so right. Some of the best days begin and end with an unmade bed! Somewhere between you and your husband’s shared styles merging somewhat seamlessly and you never imagining that something could be too cute and the smart solar panels, I started smiling and didn’t stop. It was nice to get a little lost in your story. Thank you for your words today.

Friends, are you and your partner at odds in terms of style? Do you cringe at each other’s collections, or have you found a middle ground where everything works together? Ben Blair and I actually gravitate toward the same things – luckily, I know! – but I wonder what happens design-wise when couples don’t!

P.S. – Are you interested in sharing your own home with us? Just send me a note! It’s a lot of fun…I promise! Take a peek at all the homes in my Living With Kids series here.