Artisan Spotlight: Marroquin Custom Upholstery

A pair of beautiful custom ottomans made for me by Marroquin Custom Upholstery.

Behind the Scenes... I've been writing about beautiful rooms for magazines for many years, and it's usually the designers who get most of the attention in a story. But designers are the first to tell you it's the unsung artisans whose work can make or break a room, a whole project, and even their own reputations.

Marroquin Custom Upholstery, owned by Jesus Marroquin and his family, is the go-to upholsterer for many of Dallas' top designers including Joseph Minton, John Bobbitt, Paul Garzotto, Betty Lou Phillips. "I describe Marroquin as the De Angelis of the Southwest," says Bobbitt of the legendary New York upholstery family used by Peter Marino and the like. "Marroquin is capable of executing any kind of custom detail that I can come up with. They're especially good with difficult upholstery like horsehair, leather, and suede, and with fine nailhead designs, historic detailing and antique furniture."

Jesus Marroquin oversees every piece himself and is notoriously picky and obsessive. "He won't rush a piece even if you're standing over him screaming," says Bobbitt with a laugh. "I have to say though, they always get things done on time."

Family Affair: Jesus and Elsa Marroquin, front row.
Monica Marroquin with Godzilla. Adrian and Ivan Marroquin. Not pictured: Andres Marroquin.

Dallas was his dream
Jesus Marroquin was 23 years old when he came to America in 1973, and like most immigrants from Mexico, he came across the river. A priest picked him up in his car and asked where he was going. "I said Dallas. I just liked the sound of it," says Jesus, who by then already had years of training and experience with some of the top furniture upholsterers in Mexico City. Soon, he started working with well-known Highland Park upholsterer Art Jones and his son Robert. By the time Marroquin left ten years later to start his own reupholstery company, they'd produced a line of furniture and opened 20 showrooms across the country. 

Marroquin married wife Elsa in 1980, and their four children, Monica, Ivan, Adrian, and Andres, now work in the family business, doing a variety of jobs from marketing to accounting, shipping, and designing. All of them have trained on the floor, learning how to upholster furniture to their father's exacting standards. "You can't expect to be upstairs on the computer taking orders if you don't know how a chair is done," Ivan says.

From the White House to your house
After producing a custom line of furniture for 21 years for a top Dallas showroom (many of Marroquin's pieces ended up in the White House and Camp David), Marroquin opened his own shop almost 10 years ago. In addition to reupholstery work, he is partnering with Nancy Caperton on a line of furniture at Culp Associates called the Caperton Collection.You don't have to be a designer to bring your furniture to be reupholstered by Marroquin, and they'll help you design a custom piece from scratch, with or without your designer.

A custom chair in progress, meticulously hand-finished.

Sweat the small stuff
Marroquin bought a 55,000 square foot warehouse space near the Design District in 1999. Depending on demand and the economy, they employ between 45 and 20 full time people, including head tailors, seamstresses, carpenters, tanners, painters, and master upholsterers. Some have been with Marroquin for 26 years. "It takes five years to train people to do the quality we require, and we always start with ones who already have a lot of experience and knowledge," says Jesus. "Quality is the biggest thing for us, and it takes time to train employees to understand that. It's easy to just let the little things go. It's a lot harder to find the flaws that the clients won't see."

Daybeds, chairs, stools waiting to be reupholstered. Marroquin often tears a piece down to its frame, rebuilding if necessary, and completely redoing the springs and webbing.

It takes a village
On average five people will work on a single piece of furniture to be reupholstered. "The team works together otherwise we couldn't do it," says Jesus. "But I'm involved in everything, even the smallest piece that comes in." Each employee has years, if not decades, of experience specializing in a particular detail of work, including springs, nailheads, skirts, button tufting, refinishing, and making frames.

"The key is to build the frame exactly right. After that, no problem," says Jesus, who can make any custom design you want from a photograph or sketch. Once a piece is documented, it's ready to be crated and shipped (depending on how far it's going). They ship to Europe, South America, Mexico, Dubai and beyond.

Precise and exquisite dressmaker details.

Charming details on a custom chair.

Ottoman from the Caperton Collection, through Culp Associates

"One of my dreams when I came to this country was to do furniture for the White House, and I did furniture for the White House," says Jesus, who became a naturalized American citizen in 1986. "Another dream I had was to have a beautiful wife. I am not so handsome, but I got a beautiful wife. And I dreamed to have really good kids, and I got them. I also dreamed to build this company and this facility. As you see, I came to America with nothing but a lot of dreams, but this country took me in and kept me. I made a success of my life. For a Mexican like me, this is the American dream."

To view more of their custom furniture and to contact them, go to

Seamstresses are experienced in working with delicate and difficult fabrics such as Fortuny and horsehair.

Tools of the trade.

Alberto DeHoyos hammers nailhead trim on a custom sofa for John Bobbitt.

This hand-operated machine is the traditional way to cover buttons for tufted upholstery.

Marroquin has more than 150 different styles of chairs, sofas, and ottomans ready to be made.

Sofas from Marroquin's custom collection.
Sofas from Marroquin's custom collection.

A Star is Born: Each piece is photographed and documented at Marroquin's photo studio.