If you're going for homey and cozy in your kitchen, skip the built-in cabinet-base island and opt for a butcher-block counter instead. These thick wood-slab tops resist warping and nicks better than laminate and almost as well as stone. They're perfect for toning down the coldness of stone counters and metal appliances in modern cook spaces. Plus, you can construct a 19th-century worktable-style prep island from easy-to-buy materials.
See a step-by-step on How to Build a Butcher-Block Island.