Pedigree, Schmedigree. Flaws? Hey, that's character. A Michigan's farmhouse reflects its owners' do-it-yourself Moxie and knack for saving cast-off pieces.

By Gary Thompson
April 20, 2020

As a grade schooler, Dann Boyles created decorative displays in his room. At age 11, he gave his sister’s dollhouse a makeover. By 12, he gutted the family kitchen. Shocker: He became an interior designer. But Dann eventually left that career to open Rebel, a quirky gift shop in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which he co-owns with his partner, Chip Minor.

Boyles home exterior
The homey front of Dann Boyles and Chip Minor’s place sets the tone for a relaxed refuge.
| Credit: Werner Straube

The two share a 1900 farmhouse in nearby Zeeland. Though the home was in sad shape when they bought it, “I knew we were supposed to live here,” Dann says. “The house had character, but it was simple. It seemed like the perfect place for my vintage collections, but it also played into Chip’s more modern sensibilities.” Among other things (many things), Dann collects vintage furniture and signs, U.S. Army flatware, grain sacks and antlers.

Dann fixed up the home himself, often learning to DIY on the fly. He then decorated rooms with a mix and match look that draws on both his found pieces and Chip’s cleaner style. “You know that feeling you get when you’re eating comfort food? That’s how we want people to feel when they’re in our house,” Dann says. “Safe, warm and loved.”

Office, Boyles home
Credit: Werner Straube

A thrifted lamp in the office (above) echoes the wood tones of twin Ikea desks. Mismatched chairs add color and character.

Boyles home living room
Credit: Werner Straube

In the living room, the hand-painted antique basket in the corner  is one of Dann’s prized finds. “I snagged it for $50,” he says. “I tried to act totally normal and carry it out of the store calmly, but I was beside myself.”

Layered rugs under the upholstered coffee table add extra color, pattern, softness and texture. The larger neutral rug artfully frames the smaller statement rug—like a mat around a painting or photograph.

Dann and Chip have a cat and dog, and—hence—slipcovers too. At Rebel, the Grand Rapids gift shop they own, you’ll see this sign on the front door: “All dogs welcome. Humans on a case by case basis.”

Pine cupboard, Boyles home
Credit: Werner Straube

A pine cupboard from Goodwill holds spare dishware and servings of Americana. It’s framed by one of Dann’s gallery walls. “Putting together a collage wall is never a good time for self-doubt,” he says. “At some point you just have to pound that first nail in."

Backyard Dining at Boyles home
Credit: Werner Straube

Chip and Dann host weekly summer gatherings on their patio, plus friends and family often drop by for brunch. Wood chairs from a Paris park join a set of new retro-style metal seats.

Bar Cart, Boyles home
Credit: Werner Straube

Some people consume alcoholic drinks purely for “medicinal use,” right? So why not have a vintage medical desk serve as a bar cart? “I bought it because I loved the color,” Dann says. Above, a vintage Telechron clock tells when it’s happy hour and closing time—or not.

Powder Room, Boyles home
Credit: Werner Straube

In the tiny powder room, Dann painted new wainscoting black to give the traditional feature a modern edge. The collage on the upper wall proves he’s a sucker for anything rusty, crusty, chipped and storied.

In a collected look, repeating a shape or pattern helps tie spaces together. The cross shape above is an example. It’s in the bedroom and powder room, by the patio, and even on the porch. Looking for it is like a design form of Where’s Waldo?

Master bedroom, Boyles home
Credit: Werner Straube

A bench crafted from a coffee table and cushioned by a flea-market flag anchors the master bedroom’s brass bed. Similar color and scale unite the room’s diverse fabric patterns: a botanical on the curtains, a ticking stripe on the duvet, and a photo print on the lampshade.

In all of the redo, the only work Dann hired out was the installation of new windows—a totally-worth-it splurge. “The windows were a huge upgrade,” he says. “They cost $15,000 but they made the house a forever house.”

Take 5 From Dann Boyles

1) Bridge the Gap Dann loves vintage; Chip leans modern. To meet him halfway, Dann focuses on things they both love, like graphic typography. He might also add a few modern frames to a collage of old things, or pair a Lucite piece with an antique. Shared colors can wed objects of differing eras and styles.

2) Splurge a Bit Not all of Dann’s stuff comes from flea markets, thrift store sand grandparents. He often uses a spendy piece with design cred to elevate objects around it. “That’s why you might see me mix an end table from a junk store with a designer lamp.”

3) Buy Good Paint Paint is Dann’s magic elixir for tired pieces. He used it on a $20 thrift store table in the breakfast room and on the 1950s kitchen cabinets. And he learned the hard way that bargain brands don’t hold up well. “I will never buy cheap paint again,” he says.

4 Take the Subway Dann initially resisted subway tile because it’s all over. “But I realized why it’s so popular: It’s inexpensive [$200 covered the kitchen] and incredibly classic. It made an enormous difference.”

5 Mass Objects Whether in collages, stacks or layers, favorite objects gain strength in numbers. One vintage suitcase in a corner looks sad and lonely, but a pyramid of several (as Dann created in the master bedroom) has real impact.

Collector's Additions

Living Room, Boyles home
Credit: Werner Straube

Get the cool and collected look of Dann Boyles and Chip Minor’s home with our product picks.

Boyles home product picks

Vintage Wattage Bring a little Gatsby to a gala in your backyard with these Edison- bulb string lights from Better Homes & Gardens. $20.

Top Seats Oxbow steel indoor-outdoor armchairs come in three mix and match colors (light blue shown). $128.

Planter's Punch Midcentury-style ceramic standing planters have walnut legs and come in four colors. Yellow (shown) has a crackle finish. $179 each.

Wild Hare Hunting for a gallery wall trophy? Try a resin jackalope head. $60.

Hourglass Figure Shape up an indoor or outdoor sitting area with this wicker end table from Opalhouse. $79.

Swiss Neutrality Make a blanket statement on a sofa or chair with a black-and-white Swiss cross throw. $185.

Soft Landing Drop keys, phones or jewelry in a tray made from wool Swiss army blankets and sturdy leather. $70.

Rebel With a Cause

Rebel gift shop

When Dann Boyles and Chip Minor’s gift shop, Rebel, moved to a new spot in Grand Rapids, one die-hard fan camped out in a tepee to be first in line. That’s the devotion Dann and Chip inspire with their store’s quirky mix of cards, candles, plants, designer water bottles, magic wand pencil cases and People I Want to Punch in the Face notebooks. Two of Rebel’s credos: 1) Normal is boring. 2) Giving gifts should be just as fun as receiving them. and @rebelgr