Retaining walls are usually made of masonry, stone, brick, concrete, vinyl, steel, or wood. If I were to design from scratch, I would choose either wood or tile depending on what worked best with the overall look – they both have their pros and cons. In our old house, our fridge had a slow leak in the back, which we were unaware of for days, and needless to say our wood floors were pretty busted. I an open floor plan with wood floors in my main areas and halls, and a slate/granite pattern in my kitchen. I’m a fan of the traditional cork look, whereas my husband likes the look of wood much better, and we were able to find a style that suited both of us. Good luck!
If you are actually going to use the kitchen to cook and put it through its paces on a regular basis, wood or cork is the better option. Cork tiles and wood floor (without grooves between planks!) are much easier to keep clean. For a temporary deck, wood is the material of choice, and a poured concrete foundation is not needed. While using it to cut the planks at the stern a part inside had finally given up the ghost.
We’ve actually just moved to a home with (engineered) wood in the kitchen and though the floor is in good shape elsewhere, it is not faring well in the kitchen – there is some fairly large separation in the (otherwise shiny, very traditional) planks. So each to their own, but it’s not something I typically would spec for a client – if they wanted a softer floor than tile and didn’t want rugs, I’d use cork before wood. Walls are either a plain, neutral backdrop in white, cream or ecru, or they are bright canvases of color. Windows often have exterior shutters in a contrasting shade to the building walls.
Remember to account for the thickness of the wood in your calculations, and remember that the stated dimensions are of the rough-milled size, and not the finished size. The spacing serves a secondary purpose: through the openings, it is easy to find the joists into which you must screw the planks. Once all the planks have been screwed in place, coat with a waterproofing sealer, allow to dry and enjoy!
Edit 8/15/13: In the future I would probably use knickels, like Little Green Notebook did to get the planks the tiniest bit spaced apart. If you do not own a saw, most big chain hardware stores have lumber cutting services and they will cut the wood to your desired size. According to the directions on the wood stain, give your boards several coats of stain, allowing 2 hours of dry time in between coats. Since the base was in great condition we decided it would be best to keep it & create a new wood top. We pieced together two large pieces of wood with a narrower one down the middle.