DESIGN WITHOUT LIMITS

by ALAENA HOSTETTER photography by HOLGER OBENAUS

Modern linear sofas, a vast array of chandeliers and sleek glass-topped tables are just a few of the eye-catching designs found amongst the treasure trove of furnishings, light fixtures and accessories at Ethan and Associates in Dallas’ World Trade Center.

A quick scan of the design center’s many rooms yields so many different styles, including the aforementioned, plus contemporary, Spanish colonial, transitional and more, you’d be hard pressed to guess that proprietor Ethan Gotcher began his business dealing in mostly Western and ranch-style furnishings. Those styles do exist in his showroom, albeit subtly and tastefully, in a wonderfully relevant way.

Informing his preliminary aesthetic is Gotcher’s background as a horseman who grew up riding in Colorado and now breeds cattle in Texas. “I was exposed to that type of lifestyle from an early age,” he says. “It’s something that I’ve always been familiar with.”

Through that familiarity, Gotcher became the go-to guy, not just in Texas but across the United States, to design and decorate high-end homes in the Western, ranch, rustic and lodge styles.

Take for instance a pair of his clients, TV network owners based in Orange County, California, who asked Gotcher to channel their contemporary style while holding true to the Native American design elements already in place inside their 30,000-square-foot vacation manse (which just happens to be next door to Ralph Lauren’s Double RL Ranch in Ridgway, Colorado).

“The previous owners imbued the property with a Native American feel, and my clients didn’t want to interrupt that,” he says. “This is not a Santa Fe-Southwest feel.” That meant avoiding loud colors, like turquoise and bright red, in favor of earth tones. “There are some accents of red, blue and yellow, but not in high proportion.”

Gotcher looked to Native American geometric designs used in blankets and artwork for inspiration. “It was really fun bringing in pieces that fit the bill on everything the homeowner was looking for,” he says. Additionally, Gotcher designed and custom built all the furniture with his arsenal of craftspeople.

Clients can be sure that they’re getting a top-quality product with Ethan and Associates’ custom builds.

“Setting design aside, my main focus is to use the best materials available—iron, stone, copper, stainless steel—whatever it may be,” Gotcher explains. “We use the best materials, traditional construction methods and the best craftsmen.”

Being able to design and build quality custom furniture from scratch gives Gotcher an advantage in the marketplace. He can literally make any design wish a reality. “I’m well-known for being able to build anything—from a photo, from a sketch or just an idea,” he says.

One of his clients, a Hilton Hotel in Key West, Florida, needed help redecorating the dining room after a hurricane decimated the property.

“Obviously, our designs are always regionally and architecturally appropriate—a very different aesthetic than a house in the Colorado mountains,” Gotcher says. “We went with a coastal color palette of navy blue, seafoam green, white and gray.”

Gotcher commissioned his craftspeople to hand carve the backs of the dining chairs with the hotel’s logo and a marlin jumping out of the water. “The hotel was delighted with the design,” he says.

One look inside Ethan and Associates’ showroom and it’s apparent that Gotcher has no problem seamlessly transitioning from one aesthetic to another. “We like to layer and mix different mediums,” he says.

While Ethan and Associates carries a fair number of ready-made furnishings in all styles, everything is curated by Gotcher himself, including the accessories on the tables and the artwork on the walls.

“On my travels, I stumble across a lot of artists who make things by hand, and I bring those pieces back to the showroom,” he says. “When you buy it, that might be the only one. All the artwork is original—I don’t believe in prints, giclée or lithographs—they’re each one-of-a-kind.”

That attention to individuality and craftsmanship is how Gotcher built a huge following, carving out a niche in the market for “fabulously unique” custom home furnishings. His design philosophy is best summed up when he states, “The sky’s the limit; there are no boundaries.” *

Alaena Hostetter is a content strategist, editor and journalist who writes about art, design, culture, music, entertainment and food.