How are you prioritizing your budget? This project will cost you a couple of hundred thousand dollars and you think home design magazines are expensive? Spending a little money in the front end will save you a lot money down the line. For one thing, you need to learn how to have a general concept of plans and elevations. I have had many clients come up to me telling me they didn't know what they were looking at when the designer/architect presents them drawings for approval. After they pour the foundation, it gets real expensive to change things. Spend the money and time to go over magazines and books. Do not concentrate on what you like, also look for what you don't like and why. if you're not sure why you don't like something, that's okay, just make sure you bring it to the attention of the designer. Exercise restraint. You see so many bad examples of homes with details from different regions and time periods all put into one setting. Details are simply details, have an appreciation of proportions, because that is the bones of the house. All those McMansions you see in communities are simply bread boxes with "luxury" details plastered all over it, sorta like someone putting on two much make up.