If you've taken the initiative to hire a designer for your upcoming new build or remodeling project, then it makes sense to get the most out of your time spent with them. As you will most likely be paying hourly design fees upwards of $100/hr for these services, doesn't it make sense to get the most out of each design consult as possible??
I've designed hundreds of kitchens and bathrooms, and probably conducted over a thousand design consultations over the past decade. Throughout the years, a common theme has emerged among our most successful projects. The homeowners that come prepared to our meetings generally speaking have the most fun and the most striking results.
1. Create a Houzz.com Ideabook full of photos of projects that you love. Write comments on each photo about what you like in each photo. Most importantly share it with your designer so they can make the most out of the research you've done up front. Alternatively, you can also use Pinterest.
2. Establish a realistic budget. Set your numbers in the very beginning. The more precise you can be with your actual budget, the more likely you are to come in on budget.
3. Create a list of "must haves" and a list of "definitely nots". Hand these off at the initial design consult. Ideally, this list will also outline the overall scope of work that you're looking to have done.
4. Talk to your friends who have recently built or remodeled a project in their home. You'll get a first hand account of what the design and construction process is truly like. Gaining this knowledge is going to guide your expectations and keep your dreams in line with reality.
5. Approach the consultation with an open mind. Be willing to think outside the box in terms of layout, process, or aesthetic. You've had months (sometimes years) to ponder what your new space might be like. A designer who sees your home for the first time might have a completely different take on what is best for the space.