In that case, if I were to go the gourami route, I'd probably do pearls. What tank mates would be best for them?
This is much easier to answer. Almost any of the small to medium sized rasbora (like the Trigonostigma species, especially T. hengeli and T. espei--I believe @Essjay has the former with Pearls); Brevibora dorsiocellata is another.
Other gourami, smaller species, should be OK. Trichopsis pumila in a group of five (I've never had issues with this species in a group, males interact and "croak" at each other). Parasphaerichthys ocellatus is another.
There are suitable characins, Hyphessobrycon rosaceus, H. sweglesi, for some nice red/mauve colour, and these remain in the lower half of the tank.
For the substrate level, with or without a Bolivian Ram, there are some cories suited, depending upon the temp of course. Corydoras sterbai, C. duplicareus. Might even find a couple loach species; my Botia kubotai were not problematic, though some report high activity (which can unsettle sedate gourami).