Pick a countertop for your island that matches your other counters or make it stand out by using a contrasting material. Also, your choice of cabinetry and decorative elements can make your island into a real quality item, similar to a fine furniture piece.
If you are not looking just for resale value, and we assume many of you will actually want to use your island, just think if the main uses for the island before construction. Will it be a place for the kids to eat breakfast or a baking center for your wife who like to make pies and cakes? The design should really follow the function when it comes to an island. For example, if you are tired of not being able to put hot pots directly on your countertop, install granite on your island, where placing a red hot pan should be no problem.
Another problem you might face if you buy your kitchen island as a separate unit, and not as part of the overall kitchen, is matching it to your existing cabinets. This might not be as easy as your think, but if you purchase a solid color, such as black, white or red, then you should get away with it.
If you are looking to do a complete kitchen remodeling for yourself, or for maximum resale value, don't neglect the kitchen island. Once just a place to pull up some stools so the kids could eat before running to the bus, the island and it's function in the kitchen has changed quite a bit in the last 10 years.
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