Typically we see people experiment with the latter more than the former. There are traditional groups of instruments that go along with certain genres and people stray away from the norms by trying different implements: brushes, mallets, rubber tipped sticks, etc.
The implements certainly add a nice departure from the normal colors and are often well received. Artists are much less likely to use uncommon instruments, which I attribute to the divisions that are often drawn between sub-genres. Even within the percussion community there are different connotations about the legitimacy of different types of ensembles (concert percussion, steel band, marching percussion, African ensembles, Gamelan, etc.).
I find that my most successful endeavors involve the removal of those divisions. Accept all the tools at your disposal to create the emotion and effect you desire. I like to focus on the most attractive elements of each genre and see if you can re-create them with different tools. A marching bass drum section, for example, is often known for exciting split parts that challenge the players.
Can this same skill be brought to other colors and sounds to create a unique moment? Of course it can.