Weekend Warrior: Private home designers Falkenberg and Reynolds trek to get away from it all

Work trips always feature some sort of nature getaway for the duo, who have been hiking together for 16 years

Falkenberg and Reynolds of Falken Reynolds

Credit: Adam Blasberg

Work trips always feature some sort of nature getaway for the duo, who have been hiking together for 16 years

Interior designers spending their free time in the wild—poetic, isn’t it?

Chad Falkenberg and Kelly Reynolds, co-founders of local design firm Falken Reynolds, insist that there’s some practicality to it, too. “I think there is a really strong connection with our love of the outdoors and our love of the indoors,” says Falkenberg, who grew up on a chicken farm near Edmonton. “That curiosity of exploring, whether it’s going out into nature or going into different cultures, helps us in how we explore what somebody wants in their home.”

Work trips always feature some sort of nature getaway for the duo, who have been hiking together for 16 years. And while they may be avid explorers looking for an adventure, they weren’t expecting their most recent trip to Borneo to be as startling as it was.

Scaling 4,000-metre Mt. Kinabalu is no light trek, but it’s an even steeper climb when you’re packed for tropical beaches. “We started up to the summit at 2 a.m. and it was pouring rain, super windy, freezing,” Falkenberg remembers of their last pre-pandemic excursion. “We got to the top with one other guy, Kelly took out his phone to take a photo, and of course it was raining so hard he dropped it. But we have a great photo of the other guy who was with us.”

Being away from civilization is a major draw for the cofounders, and so is the fact that hiking doesn’t require a ton of gear: good shoes and a windbreaker usually get the job done. In fact, when climbing Mt. Inierie—a stratovolcano in Indonesia—the couple made an astute observation: “We hired a local guide to take us up and while we were in our hiking boots, he was wearing flip flops.”

That hike was fairly short, compared to their three-day trip through the ancient Batad Rice Terraces in the Philippines: “That was pretty intense,” notes Reynolds. “First day was 21 kilometres, then we overnighted in a village, and the next day was another 15 to 20 kilometres.”

Back in 1994, Falkenberg had moved to Vancouver to study finance at Trinity Western University. He went on to teach business and marketing at a university in Lithuania after graduation, eventually returning seven years later and finding himself apprenticing at interior design firm Robert Bailey Interiors. That’s when he met Reynolds at OPUS Vancouver Hotel in 2006, where Falkenberg liked to stop for coffee and where Reynolds was working as a bellman at the time. They launched Falken Reynolds Interiors six years later.

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By then, Reynolds had won a wide range of experience: the Vancouverite had served in the military, worked with the local police, been a flight attendant and completed the Ironman Triathlon. “I’m a natural swimmer and a cyclist, so the first two were easy,” he says of the 2.4-mile swim and 112-mile bicycle race that precede the 26.22-mile run.

Reynolds’ love of nature and wildlife started at a young age, just like Falkenberg’s. Although the Edmonton farm he was raised on didn’t present a lot of hiking opportunities, it did mean that Falkenberg’s childhood was filled with chickens, horses, goats and cows. “My sister and I used to make treehouses all the time,” he recalls. “And I grew up riding horses—my parents used to take us trail riding up into the Rocky Mountains.”

Their favourite expedition as a duo? Travelling to one of the world’s oldest tropical forests in Borneo. The uninhabited area only had two research stations, the odd person trekking and lots of monkeys. “We also saw some boar, deer and these bugs called cicadas,” says Reynolds. “They’re giant—like the size of birds.”

And when it comes to B.C. trails, they have an affinity for fan favourites like the Grouse Grind and Mount Harvey. “We also really like doing Deep Lake,” adds Falkenberg of the 2-mile trail near Kamloops. “There’s this beautiful lake up there and it’s not busy, but it’s intense. It’s like two Grinds.”

The pair still love to travel, visiting Europe at least once a year since the start of their business. Falkenberg and Reynolds claim that exploration plays a big role in their approach to designing homes: “We saw an opportunity to bring a bit of an international perspective, but still with a very local, West Coast mindset.”

Warrior Spotlight

With backgrounds in business and design, Chad Falkenberg and Kelly Reynolds launched their interior design firm Falken Reynolds in 2012. Based in Vancouver’s Coal Harbour, the company’s roster of clients includes private homes in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island. The decision to focus on residential comes from their relationship with their clients, according to Falkenberg: “Understanding their personalities, how they live, and how they need their house to support their life, that’s something we can dive really deep into with an individual or family. That’s the part of it we really enjoy and what got us started in the beginning.”