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.
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.
Maximize natural light by having windows and skylights, and keep kitchen wall surfaces light in color to reflect daylight. Custom kitchen islands work great by using pendant or recessed fixtures to direct light onto the kitchen island and other work areas. Electrical codes will likely require that electrical outlets be located on the sides of fixed kitchen islands, not on the top, to prevent electrical shock.
If you have a big island that can accommodate many people, consider using full benches. The benches can be with or without backing to allow for more comfortable seating.
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