A kitchen island, sometimes called a block, is a relatively late addition to kitchen designs, originating perhaps with the “unfitted kitchen” concept of Johnny Grey in the late 1980s. An island is basically a table in the middle of your kitchen standing independently of the cabinetry built into the walls. It can be whatever you want it to be.
Some islands have a cooktop installed and thus used as a cooking area. Often, when it is used as such, there is also enough space for a food preparation area. And since food needs to be washed before cooking, a sink is also incorporated. Cooking in the middle of the kitchen is made possible with the invention of range hoods which eliminate unwanted odors. The preparation area may be topped with granite or marble. This allows the cook to knead dough or chop and cut food on a strong solid base. The sink is used mostly for washing vegetables and meat, although some also use it for washing non-dishwasher safe utensils, or pots and pans that are too big for the dishwasher. In this instance, there is often a rack above the sink where these are hung to dry.
Islands are also used as additional storage areas. If the built-in cabinets cannot accommodate all the appliances you have, drawers and shelves can be added to the islands. They can also be where you set your small electric appliances, such as your coffee maker, blender, or juicer. You can even set up a small TV on it if you don’t like missing your favorite cook shows, or maybe soap operas.
If your kitchen is rather small leaving no room for additional furniture, your island can double as a kitchen table, or at least a breakfast bar. You can have the top overhang the drawers so you can store stools underneath.
You do not need to include all these features and do all these things on your island. You can choose to add and do what you want with it. Its design is entirely up to you, depending only on your own needs and whatever is pleasing to you.
It is for this reason that it is often advised that you avoid buying pre-manufactured islands. Rather, design you own either using the various resources on the Internet as reference, or in consultation with a professional. If you are a good enough DIYer, you can even build it yourself. And you can buy dining room chairs online to refresh the look and feel of the space.