Step five: Go into the design process with an open mind. You hopefully will hire an expert in the design field, so use their skill and talents. Once you have had a meeting or two, you should know if you are on the same track or not. If you have difficulty visualizing spaces in 3D, tell your designer. Through pictures and sketches, your designer should be able to convey room sizes or spaces that will fit your lifestyle and needs. If you are still unsure but comfortable with your designer, then trust them and go with their recommendations.
Some people are very symmetrical in their design ideas, whereas most designers are more flexible with design concepts. When these two opposites work together, both parties need to really be open minded to get the final layout just right. There are areas where symmetry is very desirable and areas where it can be too confining, don't be too rigid either way. Proportion and scale are two other areas where people often need help. A trained eye will recognize immediately where these two design concepts need to be adjusted. Trust the design professional when they suggest a modification to proportion or scale, it will be the difference between a room that "feels" right and one that does not.
Step six: Compromise on issues that are not deal breakers. Sometimes when two spouses come together to solve an issue, the result is better than either one of the spouses' ideas alone. Rein in the desire to control everything, your designer is there to help the process, often through many sketches or concepts, they are not there to be a referee. If you can't come to a resolution, let your designer know where the issue is and let them come up with a design solution that respects every one's ideas. If compromise is out of the question, then re-visit step one and re-evaluate your goals and motives.
Nothing is more frustrating for me than having two spouses square off against each other over the conference table. Often times the issues are fairly minor and don't warrant such contention. This is just another signal that this couple has not gotten real with why they want to build or remodel a house. I have had couples who will tell me that if she gets the kitchen she wants, then he gets the garage he wants. If the budget allows, I can surely live with this compromise. It all boils down to respecting the people involved in the design process and respecting your goals and motivations for designing a new home.