A key consideration when designing a new kitchen is whether you want the overall design to be "fitted" and uniform, or "unfitted" and more eclectic.
Fitted kitchens came into vogue in the 1950s, when matching, streamlined cabinets ran wall to wall. The design is somewhat formal and allows for maximum storage and counter space. Fitted kitchens usually employ standard built-in cabinets, which are more economical than custom cabinets.
With a bit of creativity, these cabinets can have warmth and personality and avoid seeming monotonous or institutional. Put glass fronts on some of the kitchen cabinets and light the interiors; use an interesting and functional countertop material; paint the cabinets a bright color; or hire a carpenter to customize one section -- perhaps to build open shelving or a dresser for displaying a collection of favorite dishes.