Besides meal preparation, the kitchen can become a gathering area for family and friends if there is enough space. Since so much happens in the kitchen on a regular basis, getting the layout right is important. The kitchen island can serve as an additional eating area, and food preparation can easily be done there. In a large kitchen, the kitchen island can shorten the distances within the working triangle (sink, refrigerator and range or cooktop) and make it more efficient.
Take the opportunity to make your kitchen island mutli-functional because there's lots of options to choose from. Just about any appliance can be built into it including cook tops, under-the-counter refrigerators, sinks, dishwashers and trash compactors. Deep drawers provide a place to store bulky cookware and pullout shelves allow for more easy access.
We are often asked if the countertop of the island needs to match the existing kitchen countertop in style, or what will be installed as the main kitchen countertop. In most homes I would say it does match, but it really does not have to at all, nor does the material need to be the same. In fact, if you are not going to match them up exactly it's better if it looks like you are not even trying to match them, so using a completely different color and surface is perfectly acceptable.
Decide how you will use the island. Before getting the seats, it is important to know how you and your family plan to use the island. If you love entertaining guests who come to your home, you may only need stools for a more casual setting. If you have children and they are going to use the island to do their homework, then you need a lower counter and seating area.