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!
Mind Your Head : If you are hanging anything from the ceiling, make sure that there is sufficient clearance so that people do not bang their heads on a skillet or frying pan! Clearance is all-important with kitchen islands, because there is not a lot worse than having a kitchen that is severely restricted in space just to accommodate an island. The island should complement your kitchen, not dominate it.
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.
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.
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