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Color Courage Primer 

Christopher Lowell

Make spaces that nurture your soul and where your personal creative spirit can soar. 

This is your primer to help you understand how to how to approach choosing color and fabric without getting into emotional overwhelm.   Once you feel a bit more confident, then check out my new video version of this process in our lifestyle Lab Learning Annex.   There, I've created more Room Recipes which you can actually download directly to your smart phone before you go shopping so basically, I travel with you 24/7.  


Finding Your Style

Palettes  for  SmallSpaces   

 The most important two elements in any room design are color and fabric.  Maybe that’s why choosing them seems to freak everyone out. A lot of it is because there are just too many choices.  If you haven’t a clue what you lifestyle is in the first place?  Well it’s a nightmare. Too bad because it should be fun.  I won’t pull any punches here, color it tricky…especially interior color.  Unlike fashion, if you screw up the ‘what-was-thinking’ dress gets shoved to the back of the closet…bye-bye now!  With interiors, the colors is up on the wall for the whole world to see, and changing it is a big disruptive hassle.  Well, have no fear!  To get you started, I’ve already taken the guess work out of choosing color and fabric for you. It’s as easy as one, two three.  Below I’ve created fool proof color pallets and coordinating fabrics that I’ve used in hundreds of home so I know they work in literally any environment.  Let me walk you through it and please…don’t over think since I’ve done that for you too.  Ready?   

Brain Off, Spirit On!

As you make instinctive choice and questions come up I urge you to go to The Seven Layers of Design and The Seven Layer Tips pages for more on how to choose color and work with paint. 

Having said that, it’s time to turn off your brain, throw away past lifestyle considerations and simply just look at the pretty pictures and let the colors speak to you.     

Where there is fear, there IS no creativity so just have fun!

Lifestyle attitude First

The slideshow below has quick, at-a-glance design boards broken down into four easy lifestyles.  They are, TOWN, COUNTRY, CITY & SHORE (TTCS).  Now, it’s not about if you actually live in these places, but the overall impression and feel of ‘the look.’ Remember each category is open for your personal interpretation.  Example: A shore in say, Nantucket looks very different than a shore in Capri Italy right?  So without over thinking, go through each slide and pick the one your gut (not your brain) likes best!  

T.C.C.S. for Inspiration


These four lifestyle boards will give you an aerial clue of the kind of environment you’d be comfortable living in.  Some are streamlined, others tilt more towards the romantic side while others have more of a traditional feel.  Nevertheless, you can pick elements you like from all three…decorating a la carte!

Now go to the slideshow below. I’ve given you paint color boards broken down into the same four lifestyles designed specifically for smaller rooms so they’ll work in any room.  

Background Color

These colors are for walls, trim, ceilings and large upholstery pieces that should remain neutral and pattern free.  As you can see neutral doesn’t mean beige, but rather these colors that are the right hue and tone value to live with all the things you’re going to put in the room (the next 6 layers of stuff).  Find a palette you like even if it comes under a different TCCScategory.  It doesn’t matter as long as you instinctively like it. Now below I’ve teamed them with accent and solid fabrics. 

Style Vs Color


Ok, now check out the texture and accent patterns on each pillow combo more for style rather then color (though I’ve already coordinated them with paint color as well).  Pattern is where personality comes into play.  Which are you, modern pop art or neo-classic or tropical?  Maybe you’re a little bit of all of them.   But that’s the point.  There are no rules and gone are the traditional standards of the past.  As you reinvent your new lifestyle, this time do it for you so the place you call home is that welcome refuge from the madness beyond your front door.  

Texture Driven

For some, lots of color is hard to live with.  So a more monochromatic, texture-driven space feels more to their liking. That’s great too. Texture, geometric and pattern shades of the same color-ways can create a chic, layered, tranquil and harmonious environment.  So less color is totally a way to go and another great option. 



Here's a small hard to furnish space done very monochromatically.

Room Recipe Phone.jpeg

Now, don't forget to check out my video room recipes that you can download right to your smart phone. 

Just visit our Lifestyle Lab Studio! 

Christopher Lowell

I hope this little exercise has you thinking about the colors and attitude you want reflected around you.  Remember, paint is the best bang for your decorating buck and furnishings don’t have to cost much as long as you’re clever no matter what the room size is.  However, you can’t let your natural inherent creativity come out to play if you just do nothing using the excuse that you can’t afford it.  Hit the flea markets and consignment stores and have a great afternoon meeting others who are doing the same thing you are…personally curating the lives they really what NOW!  

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