When we first saw the floor "raw", it was quite a shock... the sapwood was almost white and the heartwood was stark red against it. We consoled ourselves with the idea that we can always stain it dark to reduce the color variation, until I read a bunch of articles on the internet that said hickory doesn't take stain well (which was in contrast to what the hardwood floor people had told us when we chose it.) Plus, we don't get a lot of natural light in that house, and I was afraid a dark floor would make it even darker.
Anyway, the guys came over to do some stain samples, and we settled on a stain called Cutmeg, which I think is their "nutmeg" stain only lighter. It was just enough to bring out the grain in the sapwood, but didn't make it too dark. Now that the stain is on and the oil based polyurethane is on (gives it a yellow tinge), the floor is absolutely gorgeous!
It's a little "country", but the house is in the woods and the kitchen cabinets are already a little country, so I think it all goes. We're not planning on decorating "country", but our decorating style leans toward "natural", so I think it will look great in the end!