Making the Ordinary Extraordinary
Writer Amanda Christmann
Photography by Bryan Black
For as long as she can remember, Sue Bickerdyke has loved design. As a young child, fabric stores were her playground, and she spent hours with her mother and grandmother, both seamstresses, measuring, cutting and sewing clothing on their Singer sewing machines.
“I learned to sew as early as I can remember,” she says. “It was like talking. It was what we did for fun, for togetherness, for practicality.”
Today, she still enjoys collaborating with her clients to create beautiful things.
For more than two decades, she’s been the force behind Sue Bickerdyke Interiors and Home Furnishings, and has artfully woven together beautiful threads of color, style and imagination to turn the interiors of hundreds of area homes into sophisticated but relaxed spaces.
In fact, Sue, her staff and her many clients will celebrate the store’s 25th year in January.
Sue began her career in fashion, using her creativity to help clients put outfits together in a boutique clothing shop before becoming a manager then a buyer for the company’s stores.
One of her favorite clients was an interior designer.
“She recruited me to work at an Ethan Allen as a seminar and store merchandiser,” Sue said. “I would go in early to learn everything I could about furniture and interior design. I was a sponge excited about learning everything I could.
“Within a year I was able to become an interior designer. Of course, I had some amazing mentors. Drapery and bedding and upholstery furniture came extra easily because of my experience with fabrics.”
From high-quality furniture to inviting fabrics filled with texture, refinement and even whimsy, Sue Bickerdyke Interiors and Home Furnishings is a reflection of the charming and diversified personality of its owner.
From her upstairs design studio, she curates her ideas.
“Fabrics are my favorite category to play with. I love vintage textiles, designer fabrics, exotic ethnic textiles and hand-loomed fabrics,” Sue said. “The mix, not the match of a collected room is a fun way to enjoy the variety of fabrics.”
In her shop is an exhilarating selection of textiles from around the world, many which feature embroidery, Ralph Lauren wools that resemble Navajo chiefs’ blankets, or contemporary homages to Mexican fiesta tribal patterns.
Some fabrics are vintage, while others are decidedly modern. When Sue has sparked her magic, they come together as window coverings, pillows, accent seating and more in the most magnificent ways.
Sue Bickerdyke Interiors isn’t only about fabrics, though. The designer’s hand-crafted furniture is a comfortable blend of elegance and practicality, and she enjoys combining natural elements like tree roots with contemporary colors and designs for lighting, area rugs, and many other décor selections.
Throughout the showroom are touches of Bisbee blue and copper, an ode to her Arizona heritage. Each piece is part of the palette she uses to create designs for remodels, redesigned spaces, and even new construction.
“I like to refer to it as the Carefree style of living,” she said with an ironic grin.
A Gallery of Arizona Beauty
Just as Sue collaborated with her mother and grandmother to create designs when she was a little girl, she still enjoys finding inspiration from other creative people. Sue Bickerdyke Interiors and Home Furnishings is also an art gallery.
Her husband, Paul, plays a large role in cultivating artwork, much of which is inspired by nature.
“He is also a native who loves and appreciates the sacred gifts of our environment,” Sue said. “He doesn’t miss a hawk or bobcat sighting, and he loves all wildlife.
“Paul bonds with the artists and their relationship to the desert. Their stories share his Phoenix heritage.”
Artist Bryce Pettit grew up surrounded by the beauty and awe of the great outdoors in northern Utah. He recreates his connection with wildlife in striking bronze sculpture, managing not only to capture the visual elements of nature, but reflecting something deeper in his work.
Throughout his life, Bryce has cultivated his love and appreciation for the outdoors. A self-described naturalist and fisherman, he is trained in both biology and art, and he incorporates his knowledge of science and his passion for the wonders of nature into his work.
It is not unusual to find Bryce hiking miles across trials or sitting quietly at the edge of a meadow—not only observing nature, but also feeling a deep and innate connection that emerges in his work.
Creativity has never been an option for Bryce. As a child, he grew up drawing and painting, but when he discovered sculpture, he truly came into his creative voice. His bronze sculptures are notable for their authenticity and depth, as well as their artistry.
Bryce is a national and regional award-winning sculptor, and his work can be found in private and public collections across the nation. He is a member of The Society of Animal artists, and he continues his life-long dedication and study of both his artistic processes and the subjects he loves.
Critics and collectors alike acclaim Trevor Swanson’s wildlife paintings, which are skillfully conveyed onto metals. He showed talent from a very young age, and by the time he was in his early 20s, his work was being featured in juried art shows, museums and private collections.
By the time he was 25, he had won several prestigious awards, including “Artist of the Year” from the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep.
His artistic vision has taken him across the map, through North America, Africa and Europe, and has led him to capture some of nature’s rare and beautiful moments.
At times, some of those nearly surreal moments have returned him to reality a little too abruptly—he’s been charged by hippos, tossed into the air by a cape buffalo and chased by crocodiles along the way.
Still, his enthusiasm continues to draw him to the hidden corners of the earth.
“Anyone who has encountered a wolf eye-to-eye in the wilderness can tell you it’s exhilarating,” says Trevor. “Nothing compares to the grandeur of an eagle perched high atop a snow-covered mountain, a sinewy leopard creeping like a shadow across a dry desert, or a magnificent bear effortlessly running across a muddy sandbar.
“These are the sights and sensations that inspire the most powerful images on canvas.”
Artist Amy Lay finds inspiration in mountain hideaways in her Wyoming home, and from the Wallowa Mountains of her Oregon roots. In Amy’s hand, oil pigments, graphite and charcoal become colorful and powerful wildlife art.
At the foundation of her work is a deep love and fascination for the natural world. Her paintings seem to transcend labels, expanding into both contemporary and traditional appeal that traverses the line between realism and abstraction.
The transcendence is intentional. Amy’s artistic mission is “to be revolutionary. To be indefinable in a world of categorization, and in the end, to run to parts unknown.”
For years, Amy focused on watercolors. The perspective she developed from her early work has heavily influenced her foray into bolder mediums, and her work is recognizable for its bold color and simple, yet ephemeral qualities.
“I want to create paintings that make people happy and give back a little glimpse of the beauty that animals have shown me my entire life,” she said.
Jill Duzan Willey began her professional career as an interior designer, but she found her true love in jewelry design. In the early 2000s, she began traveling abroad to search for fabrics and other design elements, but she returned with more than textiles.
Among the finds she discovered in shops and markets were beads made from natural stones, pearls and silver. She also discovered rare artifacts that intrigued her imagination.
Soon she was deconstructing her own jewelry, mixing and matching her finds to create eclectic, high-end designs. Her friends began to notice her work and, understandably, wanted some of Jill’s work for themselves.
They weren’t the only ones who recognized that Jill’s design savvy was special. In 2003, when Jill realized she could sell her work in boutique shops and other local retailers, she branded her business Jill Duzan and began to showcase her collections online, at trunk shows, and in parties out of her own home.
Today, Jill creates contemporary, nature-inspired pieces, integrating beautiful natural stones with artifacts from Africa, India, Thailand, Bali and Italy.
“My goal has always been to create jewelry that truly captures the natural beauty and individuality of every woman.”
36889 N. Tom Darlington Dr., Suite B1, Carefree, AZ 85377
Meet the Artists
Dec. 12 | 2–5 p.m. | Sue Bickerdyke Interiors and Home Furnishings’ | 36889 N. Tom Darlington Dr., Suite B1, Carefree | 480-595-0171 | suebickerdyke.com
25th Anniversary Celebration
Date/Time TBA | Sue Bickerdyke Interiors and Home Furnishings’ | 36889 N. Tom Darlington Dr., Suite B1, Carefree | 480-595-0171 | suebickerdyke.com