Growing up in a household where design, building, and gardening were a part of everyday life, Kathy Dietz’s desire to make a home a beautiful place to live was a natural process.
Her mom, an avid gardener, and dad, a builder, would say “Kathy, you are the queen of making something out of nothing.’”
Today Dietz reigns the Seasons 440 design emporium (seasons440.com) she created in Highwood with husband and business partner, Matt. The Lake Forest couple—married for 32 years—opened the upscale home and garden store on the corner of Bank Lane and Sheridan Road in 2015.
Seasons 440 offers luxury décor for every season, from garden artifacts to plants and home goods. It also offers design services. From its cozy corner location in Highwood, it commands an influence of designers and homeowners throughout the North Shore.
“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,” she says. “My children (Angela, an ER doctor in Springfield, Illinois, and Aaron, an industrial designer in Kansas City) 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.”
Seasons 440’s resplendent outdoor displays turn passersby into customers, à la a bakery’s aroma.
Inside the boutique you might forget, immediately, you’re in Lake County, Illinois. In fact, you might feel that you’ve magically been transported across the pond.
“I wanted to re-create the vibe I felt in Southern France,” Dietz says. “I fell in love with the beauty of the shops over there, the quaintness, and the look of plants taking up space along a shop’s sidewalks.”
However, the quest for one-of-a-kind finds isn’t limited to France. “I try to adopt the pace of nature with rich earth tones in wood, metal, and textiles,” she adds. “My husband and I travel to markets across the United States in search of unique pieces for our store.”
That intoxicating ambiance changes through the seasons, from this month’s Highwood Pumpkin Fest to the holiday season ahead. And that’s just one secret to her success.
“Atmosphere, for us, has always been huge, as has customer service,” she adds. “ Customers have told me how much they enjoy the feeling they experience in our store. They come in. They feel happy, right away.”