Everything about the story of Michelle and Jason Linn is quintessentially Hinsdale.
Their paths first crossed as children. He lived next door to a friend of Michelle’s on South Park. She went to St. Isaac Jogue’s and he went to Oak Elementary and of course they remembered each other, all the way up until they ran into one another again in the cafeteria at Hinsdale Central High School. A friendly face is always welcome during 9th grade lunch period, so it marked the beginning of a friendship that would last through high school and on to college.
“We remained friends and saw each other in the summer during college, but didn’t start dating until we graduated in 1994. We got married in 1998 at St. Isaac’s,” says Michelle, explaining that both she and Jason were both part of large families where nearly all their siblings came back home to raise their families in Hinsdale. “I consider it an enormous gift to my children to be near so much family, but they know no different than having multiple grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins all within blocks of their home.”
But the bond that Michelle developed with her hometown went beyond the love of family. Growing up in a historic village surrounded by historic districts and architecture from a century ago influenced an aesthetic that ultimately led her on a path to study interior design.
“I think living in Hinsdale has cultivated in me an appreciation for historical homes. I remember the first time I walked into my in-law’s former house on First Street,” she says. “It was so beautiful and warm and grand that I was in awe. A well-designed room can do that to you.”
The town itself is also special to her.
“I have always loved the beautiful homes and the history of Hinsdale, and it thrills me to see people invest in the town’s older homes and bring them back to their former glory,” she says. “It truly is an investment in the town, and I think that’s what sets us apart from other areas and makes Hinsdale unique.”
When it came time for Michelle and Jason to find a forever home to raise their two children—15-year-old Lilli (a Hinsdale Central sophomore) and 12-year-old Michael (a 6th grader at Hinsdale Middle School)—they knew they wanted a house that offered those same special qualities. And what could be more special in Hinsdale than the opportunity to live in an original R. Harold Zook home?
How the couple found the 1923 Spanish Mediterranean home is almost as “meant to be” as their relationship.
“Jason and I both loved this house growing up. It has great character and history, and it’s really fun to live in with its unexpected nooks and charm,” Michelle says. “It’s a long story on how we ended up here, but I think some things work out for a reason and we are glad they did. We are friends with the previous owners and had them over not long ago. They truly saved the house from destruction, doing a lot of the dirty rehab work. They did an incredible job, and it was fun walking around discussing what we’ve done and hearing their stories.”
Today, Jason is a grain options broker at the Chicago Board of Trade and works with his three brothers and father in the family business Linn and Associates. Meanwhile, Michelle has built an interior design atelier in Hinsdale from her time working at the Merchandise Mart and her education at the Harrington School of Design on Michigan Avenue.
“I’ve always loved interior design, but I didn’t realize it was something you could do for a living. It seemed like too much fun to actually get paid for it,” explains Michelle, who recently celebrated the 12th anniversary of her interior design business. “But once I graduated college and had a few jobs I did not like, I realized there has to be something else. Jason’s aunt is a designer, and she and my mother-in-law encouraged me to go back to school. She also found me the job at the Mart, which was a huge help.”
The life the couple now leads in Hinsdale is filled with abundant family, friendship, and beauty.
“Hinsdale is full of smart, driven people who also know how to have fun,” Michelle says. “We have friends from grade school and high school who have moved back and new friends not from the area, and it’s great to bring them all together.”
Her favorite room in the family’s historic Zook home is the grand living room, a dramatic yet comfortable two-story space with one-of-a-kind architectural details. “There is an amazing ceiling, herringbone floors, and original light fixtures,” she says. “It really is beautiful. Zook was a great talent.”
And this room, she says, is the epicenter of the holidays for the extended Linn family and friends.
“I host at least one of the big holidays every year,” she says. “I clear all the furniture out of the living room and set up one extremely long table down the middle of the room. It is really fun to all be at one table together. But most importantly are friends and family. That’s what it’s always been about for us.”
For more information about Michelle Linn Design, visit michellelinndesign.com.