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.
Checklist : Keeping a checklist can be very helpful when it comes to having lots and lots of things to order and purchase. It will allow you to keep track of what has been purchased and what are the outstanding items that need to be ordered. Always keep the checklist handy as you will never know when you will need it for reference when you are out at the mall.
Space and Design are Important : You need around 3 feet of walking space around the island unit, and you must be sure that the drawers and doors in the cabinets have room to open. If you keep to the 36 inches then you should be OK. The only dimension that must be stated is that of the counter height. Ideally it should be the same as the rest of your kitchen units. If not, then it is not a disaster, but can be disconcerting when you are working on the various surfaces at varying heights.
Regarding colors and designs, kitchen islands can be made from a number of different materials. The framework is usually wood, but the main visible surfaces could be metal or even stone - granite is a popular substance used for counter tops. Stainless steel is also good, but try to avoid aluminum if possible, because that is very soft and easily cut and scratched, and the metal oxidizes to a dull finish.
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