When Ashley and John Richter got married, they knew they’d be building a life together. What they didn’t know was that they’d be building a lot of other things too.
The Richters are the duo behind Richter Ranch Designs, which sells made-to-order custom furniture and home decor. They’ve been at it nearly 5 years and they’ve managed to smooth out all the rough edges of owning and operating a small business, but not too smooth – and that’s by design. Many of their customers want the rustic look.
Barn door buffet tables, cabinets with plumbing pieces for hardware, a table with rough-hewn lumber sanded to a silky smooth finish – it’s all a bit of classy country. While the Richters get most of their materials from lumberyards, they have used wood reclaimed from barns – but with such material, it comes down to how usable the wood is.
But rustic isn’t all they do; they’ve also made pieces with a more modern design, too.
When the Richters started their first projects, they didn’t anticipate how far their business would grow.
“We started in 2015. My husband was going to school for his physical therapy degree and passed his board (exams). He has the background in carpentry. We made a project for someone, and I posted pictures on Facebook. It just kind of kept growing,” Ashley Richter, who’s also the development director at the YMCA of the Sauk Valley, said.
“He’s kind of found his passion working with people,” she said.
John, 32, and Ashley, 28, do a lot of projects locally, but they’ve also had customers in the suburbs, and throughout the Midwest.
“We’ve made deliveries to Lincoln, Nebraska, and this summer, Michigan and Indiana. We are kind of able to make it work and get it out to them,” Ashley said.
They don’t have to look far to find inspiration for their projects.
The Richters’ shop at 1866 Ogle Road in Polo, near the border of Carroll and Ogle counties, is on John’s family’s farm.
“We have an old livestock shed he renovated over the past year and a half. We’re hoping to expand and add a storefront down the road,” Ashley said.
Customers often will come to the Richters with little more than just an idea for a project, or one they found online and the couple will do their best to bring it to life.
The Richters have worked on kitchen islands, dining room tables, end tables, bed frames and other custom projects.
“We made a Murphy bed that tucks into the wall. We worked with a massage therapist to create a frame around her massage table and drapings for privacy,” Ashley said.
Projects big and small, the Richters have enjoyed their journey so far – “it has been an amazing adventure,” Ashley has said – and the couple never forgets what brought them to where they are today: support from their customers.
On the business’ Facebook page, Ashley said she and John are big advocates of supporting local businesses. “When you support small businesses you help empower people to chase their dreams and do what they love.” For the Richters, they’ve caught up to their dream, and if the past is any indication of the future, the couple is custom-made for success.