Just that one word brings on visions of beauty and pleasure. Most of us in the Lowcountry are fortunate to have firsthand knowledge of the joy of living on or near an island.

Now, let’s consider a different kind of island – the kitchen island. This is the one element common to all those stunning photos of designer kitchens and $1 million homes.

The kitchen island has become the aesthetic focal point, an art form and an important part of any home design.

From islands that offer seating for a gourmet dinner to those of stark contemporary drama, the choice of marble, granite or other dramatic material is the first step.

But you don’t have to be rich and famous to enjoy the island life. There’s an island for every budget and lots of choices.

Unique shapes: Today’s most alluring islands are not square or rectangular. Indeed, like their natural counterparts, many have unique shapes to add interest and make a statement. From S-shaped to U-shaped to horseshoes, islands reflect the imagination of their designers.

Statement countertops: The spotlight shines brightly on the countertop material.

A striking marble, dramatic granite veining, or other unique pattern is the star.

Sometimes the thickness of the slab is the star. Or the edging – from elaborate to stark. The stunning waterfall edge has the countertop material cascading down the side to the floor with carefully matched patterns, creating a sleek, modern look.

Mixed levels: Kitchen islands often offer several levels, like a raised section for eating, a lower level for storage or food prep. Often there’s a height that allows use of standard dining chairs.

Statement lighting: A crystal chandelier, sleek pendant lighting or anything in between sets the tone for your island.

Show off your personality, set the stage with materials, design and styles and create your own special island.

Andrea Antunes McGilton is project manager at Distinctive Granite and Marble, with showrooms in Okatie; Lady’s Island; Pooler, Ga., and on Hilton Head Island.