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.
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.
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.
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.
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kitchen island lighting