One of the most exquisite natural stones known to mankind, marble is a godsend for those looking to take a detour from the boldness of granite countertops. Aesthetically pleasing and available in countless varieties, there is a reason marble has so much significance even historically. If you are going for sophistication, meet your best friend: marble countertops.

There's a lot to love about this kitchen designed by Arent & Pyke, but we're particularly impressed by the careful, asymmetrical balance happening here. The hood leans to the right of the room, as do the bar stools, which is subtlety reflected in the cream lumbar pillow camouflaging into the sofa. Meanwhile, the linear floating shelf in line with the hood as well as the light fixture, island counter, and sofa form a soothing sense of symmetry.
If you want more counter and storage space, then adding a center island may be worth the cost. But an island can limit the number of people working in the kitchen, reduce traffic flow to one-way with no passing, and make for cramped quarters. Try out an island before committing to one. Slap together a full-scale model out of cardboard or plywood and live with it for a few days. Make sure you can open your stove and refrigerator doors. No space for an island? Consider a kitchen trolley instead.
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