SEATING COUNTERTOPS and BENCHES

Outdoor kitchen and entertainment island
Front View - Outdoor Kitchen and Entertainment Island
Front and back view of multi-use, outdoor kitchen/entertainment island.
 
Function:  
Stainless steel sink, gas BBQ & grill, wrap around-service counter, stainless steel countertop as prep surface, seating walls,  and under counter storage.
 
Form:  
The vine-draped perimeter wall morphs into a winged service area, providing a structure from which to incorporate these functional elements for food prep, seating and entertainment.  
 
It's all dressed-up (animate-the-shit out of an element when you get the opportunity), yes, dressed in off-the-shelf tiles which were then re-glazed with Juanita's signature totem, then baked in the kiln.  The island is clad in these dancing tiles along with a stuccoed baseline; climbing vines lace & soften this hardscape of elements.
outdoor kitchen
Back View - Kitchen Island with Recessed Seating Wall and Millstone Tabletop
Above, Perimeter wall morphs into seating wall.  Concrete Block & Stucco Base, topped with integral colored pavers (matched to patio pavers), plus brick,
matched to wall cap and also the vent windows in the wall itself.
Mortar-Set River Rock banco with brick/adobe cap.  
Note, that the adobes were salvaged from a knocked-down shed, the river rock was collected along with sand from an adjacent arroyo (dry stream bed),  and the Portland cement was courtesy of Home-depot.  
Collecting and searching out materials to re-purpose does not have to be time consuming; just a guy with a head full of possibilities and a pickup truck.
Across the span of a few hundred projects, the cost of semi-skilled labor is a ganga, compared to the ever increasing costs of production materials.  I prefer to vote with my dollars and invest in people. while creatively saving on materials.
Quarried Stone. Another example of the integration & transition of wall into a seating banco.  
Note, how the ends of these wall elements terminate into seating benches.
Sometimes, simplicity, simply rocks.
Monolithic Slabs of stone in composition, (reminds me of my childhood building blocks).  
Which is an interesting observation:
How much of an exterior designer's toolkit comes out of childhood play?  For me, it was, "get your butt outside and find something to do, but be home before dark".  Whilst wandering through back alleys, empty lots and construction yards, I became accustomed to spotting likely 'found objects' that could be hauled-off to one of my den's of inequity. Such catches soon became the building blocks for tree-forts, underground-forts, rooftop-forts, lean-to-forts; all wonderful hideouts in which to exercise the grey matter (and later other fleshy parts).  My imaginarium grew, ultimately carving out an organic evolution into (of all things) the study and practice of Landscape Architecture.
'Embrace the inner child children!' 
Stain Glass Inlayed pavers and stone benches
Volcanic Millwheel Tabletop
Volcanic Mill Wheels on mortar-set stone bases.  
Note, the overlaps of surfaces.
One of the joys of including both found-objects and re-purposed materials is the opportunity to step a little out of the ordinary and predictable, into a more whimsical world.  
Many people confuse creative applications with high dollar costs; not so.  A talented design 'picker' (such as moi) will stay ahead of trends, thus finding such commodities as these south of the border mill wheels (alas, now they are all the trend).  There are always more undiscovered goodies to find; just have to be a seasoned weirdo, like me.
Volcanic Mill Wheel Tabletops with stone or a masonry block base.
volcanic millwheel tabletop
Here's another: a Triple Decker Mill Wheel Table.  This one built to table-and-chair seating height.  
Note base: instead of a mortar-set stone base, it is a built of conventional CMU blocks, ground-faced, with a sculpted stucco accent (not unlike the above base for the kitchen island).
There are oh so many ways to accommodate unique design applications without busting the budget.
A lot of talk about 'sand-set pavers', and not much regarding what holds these jigsaw puzzles together.  The perimeter edging needs to be fixed in place; this can be accomplished by running the paving units up against the building, or a landscape wall. When there is a transition to say a planting bed, then be sure to mortar-set that edge paver securely in place.  If there is excessive traffic or over-saturation that might undermine this grouted-in-place paver, install a concrete footing or a CMU foundation block,, thus firmly securing the edge paver.
Throughout this site I will be referring to the benefits of utilizing curves whenever possible in the design of outdoor spaces.  We have fashioned for ourselves a rectilinear world over that of one more 'curvaceous' - modular Order, rules the day.
That's fine; it is just another opportunity in the design world where contrast can be chosen over complementary order.
Note, the simple transformation of the right angled wall element turning into a graceful arc.  Notice the seating wall and how it conforms to the sensibility of the right angle of the wall, while continuing on to dead-head into the curve, creating a secondary curve.  
It doesn't look like much on paper, and in narrative its a 'so what moment';
but 'as-built' this subtle double arc of wall and banco provides a dynamic sense of movement and repose , vs an otherwise static corner.
The layering of such subtle design details into the construction is the
eye-candy of the mind.