avoiding a blotchy look w/hardwood
First, thanks for the invaluable advice. Next, my apologies if these questions have been answered repeatedly. I did a search and didn't find the answers. Sorry if this is a bit long.
What started out as a simple kitchen re-model has, not surprisingly, grown. Three small rooms have now become one, so what I thought was an easy kitchen flooring decision is now more complicated and more expensive.
The flor will be a medium tone solid hardwood. The only things that are set are (1) a "cinnamon," a reddish brown stain on the various cabinets in the room and (2) rainforest green marble on the counters and island.
Question 1 - will narrower planks make the area look smaller or choppy? The new room will be maybe 20 by 30, but not a rectangle. Call it a funky polygon. Any optimal width? I think I like the look of wider planks but have heard some warnings about 5" in certain climates. I am in NY by West Point. The sty-le of the room will be a sort of eclectic contemporary. Advice on width would be greatly appreciated.
Next question: can I put a new flor over the old hardwood one? Throughout most of the space, the existing flor is fine. No warping, buckling, etc. I think it is glued down but it may just be nailed. It has been there since the 50s. There are minimal places (a threshold for example, or a short strip where a wall was removed) where it is not perfect, with the major exception being what was a small kitchen area, maybe 15' by 8' max. Seems to me it would be much easier (and significantly less expensive) to make the kitchen flor level match the rest of the area than rip up 80% of the flooring to bring it down to where the kitchen floore is. (And before you ask, the existing floore is narrow, yellowish 1950s planking, running in every different direction in each of the former rooms, and patched in a level but unattractive way. The former owner fancied himself a do-it-yourselfer, but those and others are stories for a post in a different forum.)
Last question/request for opinions: For this room, I am not a fan of rustic or bland. I don't want too many knots, or something as monochromatic as, for example, a maple or cherry. I've considered red oak, since it would compliment the grain of the cabinets, and the light(er) background would make the space seem larger (correct?) But I find myself drawn to the warmth and visual interest of, say, the tigerwood/koa, but am not a fan of the "blotchy" look. While I would like hickory in some applications, this is not one of them. Is there something that is not as common as red oak, as mellow as maple or cherry, or as blotchy (ok, variable) as koa? The koa (or similar palette, not endorsing the koa, just as an example) has the advantage of being able to pick up various colors, perhaps helping to bring together my odds and ends.
I need to make a decision. I would love your input. (and as an aside, how come only some uses of the dreaded "linking" words creates a link? Odd. Are there accepted variants for fl**r and k*tchen?)
Thanks for reading.