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A military spouse uses design know-how to make a Jamestown rental feel anything but temporary

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Decorators will tell you that to create stylish interiors, pieces should be accumulated over time, not hurried and purchased all at once in matchy-matchy sets. While that is certainly true of the curated look of the Jamestown home of the Marlowe family, matriarch Jewel has furnished the house on the quick. In 17 years of marriage, these current coastal digs are the twelfth address for her resilient brood of six, a military family.

In Jamestown, while her husband attends Naval War College, Marlowe explains that they have lived in almost every corner of the country and have even crossed the pond to the United Kingdom. “When someone moves that frequently you can’t help but pick up treasures along the way. What has resulted is an eclectic mix of pieces,” says Marlowe, of the decor du jour she defines as “Colorful Glam with Soul.”

With each move, Marlowe works to make each property feel like “home” without delay. Undaunted by the prospect of where they live being transitory, she sees it instead as an opportunity for experimentation. “I find a rental to be liberating, stylistically,” she says. “Since I knew it wouldn’t be forever, I felt empowered to use colors that I might normally have been too shy to tackle... a hot pink bathroom for example.”

Recently, Marlowe has started a blog titled Jeweled Interiors, where she shares tips and inspiration with categories like Rental Home Inspiration, noting that with each relocation her style evolves. The Jamestown home is a spacious split-level built in the 1970s, reconfigured by its owner to double the size with an expansive entertaining space on the second floor. “The natural lighting is unbelievable,” says Marlowe, who also enjoys that the beach is a two-minute walk away.

Like many lifestyle bloggers, Marlowe is no stranger to a needle and thread or bucket of paint, and notes that ten years ago she bought a book on upholstery and has been practicing this skill ever since. “It is empowering to learn basic reupholstering and refinishing,” she says. An expert of infusing spaces with personality, Marlowe is a devotee of Tempaper, a self-adhesive, repositionable wallpaper that can add pattern and panache as easily as it can be removed.

Trademarks of Marlowe’s style include antiques “mashed up” against modern and contemporary pieces, noting “that unexpected tension gets me every time!” She cites her days buying and reselling at the British furniture auctions as formative to her aesthetic, recognizing that it was during this time she discovered how she could be equally smitten with both a weighty Victorian bow-front dresser and a clean-lined mid-century teak credenza. “I probably have England to blame for my eclectic style and decorating obsession,” she muses.

Vintage shops and Craigslist are go-to sources for Marlowe, who not only found a zebra rug in nearby Providence for $100 but took a road trip to retrieve a pair of vintage Nordstrom dressing room sofas for $100 total. Seeing beyond their metallic olive-green leather to their intricate details and craftsmanship, she brought them home and fearlessly painted the set a dark navy blue using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint®. She also uses paintable wallpaper to modify rooms in a non-permanent way.

Textures play an important role in Marlowe’s style and she gravitates toward lush textiles like velvet and silk. Items like curtains and art are among the accents she uses to make her imprint on spaces along with leafy plants. “As a renter I find that plants are the most impractical, yet most desirable ‘splurge’ in a room. I can’t take them with me, but I certainly enjoy them while I can.”

Follow Jewel Marlowe’s adventures at JeweledInteriors.com