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.
A kitchen island is not a new concept, since they were known back in the medieval days when knights were bold. They are assuming increasing popularity in today's kitchens, particularly in larger homes where the kitchen is more than just a small cooking area compressed into an area somewhere between the dining room and the garden shed!
Plan the height of your cabinet appropriately. Since most islands will have at least two stools or chairs pulled up to the surface, you may want to think about the seating or stools first. There are two kinds of bar stools with one being much higher than the other. Unless the island will be used primarily for family eating, there really are no hard and fast rules on height. It does not have to match the height of the kitchen cabinet, but often does. If it is not going to match it should be taller in most cases.
For those remodeling and looking for an "open" feel where perhaps the wall or half wall separating the kitchen and the dining room is taken down, a strategically placed island acts as a subtle room divider mentally separating the kitchen from the dining room but with a much more open feel.
small kitchen island furniture
kitchen island with stools
kitchen island deck