Forty years ago, Mark and Linda Heister gambled on reinvention. Back then, the couple had jobs at a Chicago ad agency he as a graphic designer, she in sales. But one fateful day, the lovebirds found themselves laid off. Spent many an afternoon sold searching, «Linda recalls, I said to Mark, If you could be anything in the world, what would it be?» His reply: a fashion designer. Linda dream career was public relations; Mark, her dream client. That exactly what we did, she says.
And they eventually succeeded, with Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman carrying Markline. «No one told me what I couldn’t do», says the self-taught designer, I was able to make unorthodox decisions that somehow worked. His cut-on-the-bias dresses, sewn from luxe, four-ply silk, proved deceptive – nothing special on the hanger, yet hypnotic draped on the curve of a hip.
Amid such extremes, judicious hits of green, red, and yellow offer the design equivalent of a knowing grin. The basic, primary color scheme also has practical benefits. Taught me that if you stick to one limited palette, you can easily swap things from room to room, explains Linda, who claims she is in charge of, grunt work, and fetching, while her husband is the visionary of the operation.
Not that he above getting his hands dirty. Mark made the kitchen sly trompe wooden shelf, which masquerades as an old-school fabric valance, and he decanted all the couple dry goods into glass jars with fanciful clip-art labels. It goes without saying that he sews – witness the stunning drapes in the great room, stitched from a few Hudson Bay blankets.
The existing dining table now sits atop chunky utility poles, rather than its intended Colonial legs.