SCW Interiors

Life of Shaz Life Hacks

Shazalynn Cavin-Winfrey of SCW Interiors, an Alexandria, Virginia based interior design firm, provides simple solutions to creating a beautiful home and life.



In case you missed last week’s Washington Post home section, Michelle Brunner wrote a wonderful article detailing mural wall coverings. Click here to read her article on what we discussed. While the article focused primarily on the range of murals now available, this dining room designed by SCW Interiors was featured and we thought it was worth sharing some of the details with you just in time for bird watching season.

I know I say this a lot, but that truly was one of my favorite spaces to create!  The clients are avid birdwatchers and wanted their home to reflect this personal interest and it’s natural setting.  Gracie wallpapers are known for flora and fauna but we decided to take their project to the next level and create a custom hand-painted wallpaper with species of their choosing. So much goes into a project like this that we thought it would be fun to share some of our research here.   

From top left to bottom right: Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, Barred Owl, Pileated Woodpecker, Blue Bird, American Goldfinch, House Finch, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Chickadee, Northern Cardinal, White Breasted Nuthatch, Blue Jay, Mourning Dove. Photos courtesy of Google Image and

I spent months going back and forth with the homeowner and Gracie Studios to create panels which accurately reflected the birds listed above which are native to the area.  But it’s not simply enough to list the bird species you would want on your panels.  This particular wallpaper was hand painted in China where they are not necessarily familiar with the birds of America and their behaviors.  It was up to us to provide them with the notes so we didn’t end up with hand painted hummingbirds the size of owls!  It was also important to learn the behaviors of certain species.  Did you know male cardinals are extremely territorial?  We would not want to picture two bright red cardinals together in the panel when they would never be seen together in their natural habitat.

Here are notes collected on the various bird species which were to be featured in the wallpaper.

  • Ruby-Throated Hummingbird – This particular hummingbird is eastern North America’s sole breeding hummingbird!  It measures 2.8-3.5 inches. 

  • Barred Owl – The Barred Owl can grow up to 20 inches big with wingspans measuring up to 3.5 feet!

  • Pileated Woodpecker – The Pileated Woodpecker ranges in size from 16-19 inches.  Fun fact, these woodpeckers drill rectangular shaped holes in rotten wood rather than round.

  • American Robin – These robins can get up to 11 inches big.  The eastern population color differs from the western, in which the robins are often paler on the west coast.

  • Red Bellied Woodpecker - Much smaller than the Pileated Woodpecker, these measure on average 9.5 inches.

  • Blue Bird – The Eastern Bluebird is anywhere from 6-8 inches big.  They are easy to spot with their vivid, deep blue color and typically can be found in nest boxes or old woodpecker holes.

  • American Goldfinch – The goldfinch ranges in size from 4.3-5.1 inches.  Depending on the time of year, the adult males can be found in different colors.  From spring to early summer, they are bright yellow with a black forehead, however, during the winter they are unstreaked brown with blackish wings.

  • House Finch – The House Finch is 5.1-5.5 inches big and are outgoing birds.  The males are rosy red around their face while the females are grayish-brown.  

  • Tufted Titmouse – This species ranges in size from 5-6 inches.  They are a silver gray color with a black patch above their bill.

  • Carolina Chickadee – The chickadee is on the smaller side, averaging about 4 inches in size. 

  • Northern Cardinals – Cardinals average in size around 9 inches.  They are a beautiful vibrant red but can be very territorial!

  • White Breasted Nuthatch – These birds can be anywhere from 5-5.5 inches big.  They cling to tree bark moving up and down.

  • Blue Jay – Blue Jays can get up to 12 inches big!  Blue Jay calls can carry long distances.

  • Mourning Doves – Mourning Doves, one of our most abundant birds in North America, ranges in size from 9-13 inches.  

In addition to including native bird species, we also wanted to showcase the beautiful flora of our region.  When creating custom designs, we were able to have fun with the colors of the plant species native to the eastern region, choosing pink or white dogwoods and blue or pink hydrangeas. 

From top left to bottom right: White Dogwood, Pink Dogwood, Forsythia, White Hydrangea, Cherry Tree, Orange Daylilies, Blue Hydrangea, Pink Rhododendron. Photos courtesy of Google Images.

After what feels like becoming an expert on indigenous flora and fauna, we submitted our final notes to the studio. Gracie Studio comes back with drawings of the proposed panels and the layout of the flora and fauna. Look at the intricate detailing and layout of the various species below.  See if you can spot the owl!

Huffard Wallpaper Drawing 3.jpg

I am thrilled with the end result of this project.  Although a lot of time and energy went into the research of these animals and plant species, the clients ended up with a space totally unique to their interests and walls which are truly a one of a kind work of art.