In addition to seating 4 (or more), islands today are used to house "luxury" appliances that do not fit in the cabinet structure like a second microwave, second oven, wine refrigerator or even another cooktop. Islands many times are fully wired for electricity and have plumbing for a second sink. The base of an island can be used as a wine rack. The possibilities are almost endless.
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.
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.
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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