Window treatments, such as shades, blinds, drapes, and shutters, are an obvious upsell on any remodeling project involving new windows. But they're not automatic profit centers. The window coverings industry is oriented to the interior design trade — an industry that revolves around thread, fabrics, and upholstery. They're not the materials most remodelers know best.
“Unless a [remodeling] company has an interiors department, it will be difficult for it to benefit directly from selling window treatments,” says Rita Peterson, a principal in Associates in Building & Design, a design/build remodeling firm based in Fort Collins, Colo. Peterson — a certified interior designer — provides complete interior design services, including window treatments, for the company's remodeling clients. “Remodeling and interior design complement each other well, but they're very different practices,” Peterson says. So different, in fact, that all of ABD's interior design work is handled separately: It is negotiated under separate contracts and accounted for on its own line in the company's P&L statement.
“Most clients aren't ready to make a decision about interior treatments at the time they sign a contract for the remodeling work,” Peterson explains. When they are ready, Peterson charges for her design work, which includes designing custom shutters as well as soft treatments, such as drapes and curtains, some of which she has made by a seamstress, and others she purchases directly from the manufacturer. Many high-end window treatments are not available for retail to the consumer, and require establishing trade accounts with the manufacturer. To handle the wide array of specialty hardware involved, Peterson employs an installer who only does window treatments. “The average carpenter would be hard-pressed to match his efficiency,” Peterson says.