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1. Enough space. If you want your entertaining island to be the center of your party, plan it wisely*. Be sure you have enough space (36" to 60") behind it for guests to pull out stools without hitting a wall. Give yourself wide enough work aisles (42" to 48"), to not bump into your guests on either end. Put appliances guests are likely to use, such as icemakers, near the end so they're easier to reach without interrupting your work flow. Plan a comfortable overhang (15" for counter height, 12" for bar height), for seating, as well. Too short and guests will bump their knees.
* The dimensions from the National Kitchen & Bath Association's Kitchen Planning Guidelines.
2. Mood lighting. An entertaining island should welcome guests with style and comfort. The dramatic darkness of this island sets the tone for a soiree, and the comfy barstools invite lingering. Even the handsome pendants contribute to a well-lit party mood.
3. Worry-free countertop. Carefully consider the countertop material that makes sense for your entertaining island. If you want a worry-free countertop, avoid materials that are stain-prone, such as natural stone, in favor of non-porous options. Glass, like this ThinkGlass top, is one party-friendly option. Engineered stone or repairable Corian would be two others.
4. Cooktop. Many home entertainers like to make cooking part of their entertaining process. If that's true for you, you might want to put your cooktop on the entertaining island. I highly recommend an induction cooktop for that placement.
An induction cooktop only gets hot directly under and next to the pot or pan, reducing the chance of a guest getting burned and ensuring they won't set themselves on fire by catching a party sleeve on an open flame.
Induction cooktops are faster than even high-BTU pro style gas burners, meaning your food gets served sooner. European chefs are largely switching to induction with no sacrifice in cooking performance.