Rebecca Cao is a certified interior decorator working mainly in Fairfield County, Connecticut. She graduated with highest honors from the University of Michigan and attended Yale Law School. She worked in immigration and family law before deciding to pursue a profession that combines two of her passions: real estate and design. She is no stranger to entrepreneurial pursuits — she started her first company in 2010 and has been a small business owner since then.
Rebecca believes that her young(er) age gives her an advantage over interior decorators and designers who have been in business over decades. She is in touch with the Millennial generation, many of whom are purchasing their first homes, who simply don’t have the time to coordinate paint colors and furniture. She had this experience firsthand when she bought her first home with her husband while still attending law school. “I would text my husband random things like what height the bathroom vanity should be, and he would run over and check on things during his lunch break,” she laughs. “I’m completely OCD, so it was really hard not having control over those details.”
Rebecca’s design prioritizes light, open space, and minimalism. She does enjoy adding bold colors and plants in the right amounts. She believes that every space is different, and that interior decoration should match existing architecture. “Every building has its own story,” she explains. “I personally enjoy midcentury modern elements in my own home, but I recently put together a living room for a client that combined traditional and historical elements with modern colors and light fixtures, which was just perfect for that space. It had soaring ceilings, original wide-plank hardwood flooring, and exquisite crown moulding, so it needed something that complemented that history. I ended up picking several pieces out of estate sales in the area.”
In addition to embracing modern design, Rebecca understands that furniture sales are increasingly moving to the online platform. In the past, you worked with interior decorators because they had access to showrooms that you did not, and they could get you a discount on the items. They would, however, only give you a portion of the discount they received. Now, things have changed. “Showrooms are a thing of the past,” says Rebecca. “I don’t need to see the products I’m buying. If I need to see and feel the fabric, I get a sample in the mail. By using online platforms, I can get those same pieces for a fraction of the price, and these savings get passed directly to you — I don’t take a cut.”
Is an interior decorator out of reach for the average homeowner? “No,” Rebecca replies. “I’m not going to lie — design services are not cheap. But I have many pay structures that are highly customizable to the client’s individual needs. If you want me to handle a big project where you’re starting from scratch, from design to coordinating contractors, my commission is 30% of the total project cost. If you just want a few hours of consulting, then I charge an hourly rate of $150/hour. If you only want help with design and product shopping and you can handle logistics, flat rates start at $10 per square foot. Initial consultations are always free.”
So what is the most important skill an interior decorator can have? “Listening skills,” Rebecca responds emphatically. “Few people are good listeners anymore. I always try to understand my client’s needs and wants first. Then, I work out a budget, get their approval, and execute their vision. As a business owner, I understand budgets, and I simply do not go over them.”
Schedule an initial consultation with Rebecca in person, in your home, for free today.