While brushed stainless steel is the most common choice for countertops thanks to its more easygoing maintenance, there are a variety of other types of finishes available, such as antique matte or a polish that is satin or mirror. Of course, the shinier your finish, the more time you will spend polishing off fingerprints.
The Brown Residence by Lake|Flato Architects has a pretty interesting kitchen. The backsplash window doesn’t look directly outdoors but rather into a hallway. It‘s an interesting way of connecting the spaces and ensuring a seamless transition and a continuous flow between them.
If you‘re thinking of using stainless steel, especially for an island, you may be able to save money by investigating what restaurant supply companies have to offer. Lots of professional kitchens use a standalone stainless steel table as a work station and this may suit your needs at a much lower cost.