Kathy Dietz must have played hide-and-seek as a child. Every child did, right? But she also was asked to seek things for her mother, Dorothy, when Dorothy wanted to enhance a corner of a room in their house in Slinger, Wisconsin.
“My mom would say, ‘We need something … something over there,’” recalls Dietz, who, while attending high school near the Little Switzerland Ski Area in Washington County, made drapes. “I’d look around for something for my mom. I’d find something for that corner.
“My mom told me, ‘Kathy, you are the queen of making something out of nothing.’”
Today Dietz reigns with her husband and business partner, Matt, at Seasons 440 in High- wood. The Lake Forest couple—married for 32 years—opened the quaint home and garden store on the corner of Bank Lane and Sheridan Road in 2015. Kathy had owned and run tennis pro shops at clubs in Wisconsin and Illinois, in addition to teaching the game to members; Matt, a Western Michigan University Hall of Fame hockey player who played professional hockey in Finland for a year, had sold wholesale produce in Chicago.
They first met at a club’s tennis event. A match made … after a match. Seasons 440 offers décor for each season, specializing in large live and faux plants. The faux versions, Kathy warns, look so real you’ll have to remind yourself not to water them. Looking for outdoor containers or indoor accessories or an expert with a great eye for arranging or transforming more than a corner in your house? Enter Seasons 440.
It recently added an in-house design service with emphases on staging shelving and plant placement.
Its target customers include Baby Boomers aiming to either redo their spaces in existing homes or downsize. Holiday sales reached a record level last month.
“People want green in their houses at this time of year,” Dietz, a gardener since the age of 7, says after having ordered coffee, two scrambled eggs, whole-wheat toast and fruit in the—where else?—Garden Room at Deer Path Inn in Lake Forest. “Decorating with unique items and plants has been my passion since owning my first home. I have always needed life in my homes, with plants and dogs and beautiful, earthy accents that make a home your own and a warm, cozy place to nest.
“My children [Angela, an ER doctor in Springfield, Illinois, and Aaron, an industrial designer in Kansas City, Kansas] told me, ‘You’re finally doing what you had wanted to do for 20 years.’ Our first year at Seasons 440, I’d unlock the door each morning and think, Gosh, this is my store.”
Fifteen of her tennis buddies checked out Season 440’s warm atmosphere and pleasing scents on Day One (November 15, 2015). All 15 loved the experience (15-love, if you’re a tennis buff and scoring at home).
Dietz and her four brothers dabbled in the arts in their formative years. Kathy, a pianist and middle-school orchestra member, took art and photography classes in college. Their father, the late Norman, became a home builder, with a specialty in cabinetry, after “starting with nothing,” Kathy Dietz says.
“My father was a true craftsman,” she adds. “He believed strongly in taking pride in what you do, in doing everything the right way. He was a World War II vet, and he was passionate about the armed services, too. We respected him. We respect the armed services.
“My mom continues to garden in Slinger; it keeps her young. She’s an amazing woman. She sometimes visits us and works in our store. She tags products for us. Amazing, that’s what she is.”
Another influential person in her life at a young age was her great aunt Mary, another avid gardener. Dietz, a former Deerfield resident, has admired Lake Forest resident and philanthropist Kennetha “Posy” Krehbiel for years. Krehbiel’s gardens on her property are legendary. Dietz also draws inspiration from Lake Forest florist Katie Ford, Lake Forest photographer Kerri Sherman, Lake Forest event stylist Ellie Nottoli, Lake Forest fashion and lifestyle blogger Megan Medica (“Never Without Navy”) and her Seasons 440 cohorts, including manager/ designer Ana Leite.
Dietz had returned from a trip to Europe nearly four years ago when she and Matt began their plans to transform a space that had been home to Highwood Carpets and, later, an antique consignment shop. Seasons 440’s resplendent outdoor displays turn passersby into customers, à la a bakery’s aroma. Inside Seasons 440 you might forget, immediately, you’re in Lake County, Illinois. “I wanted to re-create the vibe I felt in Southern France,” Dietz says, adding French Country, Traditional and California Casual products are among the offerings that adorn her store’s inviting setting.“I fell in love with the beauty of the shops over there, the quaintness, the look of plants taking up space along a shop’s sidewalks.
“Atmosphere, for us, has always been huge, as has customer service. Look around you now. Don’t you just love the atmosphere here in the Deer Path Inn? Customers have told me how much they enjoy the feeling they experience in our store. They come in. They feel happy, right away.”
One more thing. Seasons 440 changes four times a year.
Which makes sense.
See the word in the name of the store.
Seasons 440 is located at 440 Sheridan Road in Highwood, (847) 780-4766, seasons440.com.