Countertop material for the island doesn't have to match the rest of your kitchen countertops as long as it is harmonious with the room's overall design. You may want to splurge on solid surfacing here, for example, and use laminate on the other countertops. A butcher-block countertop is ideal for chopping, while granite or marble works well for baking purposes and for rolling pastry dough.
Safety First! You are better off without it if you are using up all the free space in the room. Your kitchen should be spacious and you should never feel restricted in your movement - in fact it can be dangerous if you are. Yes, a kitchen island is good to have, but not if your safety and freedom of movement are compromised to accommodate it.
If you have doubts, you could always ask a professional designer to go over your kitchen space and make a recommendation or, if you want to save money, you could visit friends who have a kitchen islands and make the necessary comparison. Moreover, you can choose for your kitchen island to be in an L, U, or a G shape.
Even in smaller kitchens people are examining the possibilities that could arise by clearing away the traditional kitchen cabinets, and replacing them with kitchen islands that offer the same amount of walking space if not more. Here are some ideas for a kitchen island that is not plumbed in to serve a sink, but that offers a great deal of storage space and can effectively make your kitchen appear larger.
traditional kitchen with large island
traditional kitchen island designs
traditional home kitchen islands