Did you get the 'small gardens' handbook that came with the last edition of the GW magazine? I thought it was lovely. The thing the gardens seemed to have in common was that they started with small trees/tall shrubs round the edge, which rapidly 'sloped down' to lower planting, then lawns/patios/paths, and it gave a sense of privacy and depth. New builds can be so bleak. My advice would be to:
1. Work out what you want to blot out - in terms of neighbouring properties, and include noise, which can really be helped by dense planting - eg. dog barking, ugly shed, overlooking window.
2. Choose trees with a small habit, and a variety of leaf colours for added interest, then maybe some contrasting shrubs in front. But allow for light. Height seems to me to be the difference between a beautiful garden and a mediocre one.
3. Sweep paths in curves to lead the eye gradually to the end where it narrows.
4. Get an attractive greenhouse which complements the garden rather than being something you want to hide.
5. Incorporate vegetable planting with flowers. Companion planting is a great idea.
6. Wait for your eureka moment, and don't spend too much money in the first instance, so that if you suddenly realise you want to do something completely different, you don't feel 'tied in' to the wrong plan. Maybe get vegetables out of your system by just turning your garden into an allotment for its first season - that ties you down to nothing (and put all the money you save at the supermarket into more expensive plans).
7 Buy the GW magazine (or others) or buy old books in second hand shops about garden design, or have catalogues sent to you, and 'scrapbook' the things you like.
8. Put the following statements about what a garden is, in order of precedence....
a. a place to sit with a glass of wine in the evening and admire the view
b. a place to grow healthy organic vegetables, salad and fruit, eggs, honey, etc.
c a place for the kids/animals to play/prance about in
d. a place for me to explore the world of plants and horticulture
e. a place for grown ups to entertain
f. a space which will add value to the property we have bought
If I'm honest, the garden here is 'all the above', but I think if you can work out your priorities and bias, it does help. Good luck - agree it would be good to see a picture!