Getting quality wood is a hard job. I never stain any wood. The walnut is air dried and came that way. A couple years ago I bought two truck loads from a fellow in Gnaw Bone, Indiana. The tiger maple is very hard to get. I found some several years ago from a place called Tiny Timbers in Deputy, IN, but can't get any more there. I believe I got this from a place in southern Indiana called Wide and Long Lumber Company.
As far as the design...A friend sent me a photo of a table he made, but he had the top glued and screwed to the apron which I think will split in the future. He didn't put contrasting strips instead he drilled hole in the ends of the maple to install a screw into the end of each board then put a walnut plug. The boards for the top were 3/4" thick which just looked to heavy for a small table. My table the top is 5/8" thick. His table looked okay, but it wasn't for me. He has since looked at my table and said he likes it. Shaw! Image that!
As far as the walnut strips, I kept planing them thinner until I got something that I liked. I didn't want something that took away from the maple. I got the walnut strips to around .20" and decided to go with it. I may be making several more tables in the near future - different heights, lengths and widths. I'll give this table to my wife on Friday for her birthday. Had several people said they would like to have it. Malcolm