It's got down to that question, and I choose function! I will dwell in this kitchen for a couple more decades, and I want easy! Hell with beauty! I just want ease of kitchen. Am I wrong?
In my opinion, NO!
But I see no reason at all why it has to be a choice. Make it functional, first. Then rely on design and style to make it as pretty as you want.
It is a false dichotomy to set function as the competitor for design.
But if you use style or design as the starting point to your kitchen planning and afterward try to make function fit a pre-conceived, unalterable plan, then you're making your life needlessly hard. And both function and design will be compromised.
So we did our kitchen about 10 years ago.
We took a very small galley kitchen with 5 doorways, and a small maids room, added on into the backyard, and installed all new items inside. It was quite expensive.
It is both amazingly functional, and also very nice.
I remember thinking after I was in my new space, that if my budget had been 1/3 what I spent, that it would have been best utilized by adding the space, and getting the functional layout, and putting in rental grade builder basic items. But most people with the 1/3 budget would have not done the addition, and "decorated" the nonfunctional space with nice cabinets and appliances. Which would have only given me a new, yet still frustrating, kitchen.
Once the money is spent getting the space right, the space will always be right. What is in the space will wear out and need to be replaced.
If I wanted a beautiful counter top that was too pretty and delicate to use...that would be sacrificing function. As long as I can easily use a surface, then why not have it attractive?
There are plenty of choices available...so are you caught between function and design with your materials, layout, or some other issue?
If you really cook, and you do it often, then function is first. There's not necessarily a conflict between function and looks, but on the occasions when there is, it's wise to make the choice based on function.
Ease of use justifies what you spend, because the payoff (for real cooks) comes every single day that you use it.
I don't even cook much, and I want a functional kitchen. I go in there many times a day - even if it's just to pour a bowl of cereal or make a sandwich, I want the space to make sense.
I don't think form and function are mutually exclusive! There are an awful lot of beautiful, highly functional kitchens pictured on this site to prove it.
If the choice comes down to that, function should always come first. But don't be too quick to assume that it has to be either or. When I started out, I was all about function and didn't give a thought to looks. The most important thing that happened to me was time - time to think, time to research, time to rework. It took me about a year and a half to arrive at a design I was happy with, but I learned so much. And by the time I was done, I managed to get the best of both, without too many compromises. My kitchen could have been slightly more functional, but the trade-offs were my decision and felt worth it to me. Don't give up too easily!