How do you determine which direction to lay hardwood floors?

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In about a month, we will have a contractor lay hardwood floors in our living room, dining room and kitchen which are all upstairs as with many homes in Hawaii. This is all one large area with a staircase slightly separating the l/r from the rest. The dining area has a cathedral ceiling. I would like the wood to run length-wise in all rooms especially to go with the flow of that ceiling. The contractor agrees but some others have said to lay it in the opposite direction because of the stairway. What is your opinion?

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