This are my LAST Shaker pics for awhile, I promise. Here's another great idea, however. In the Shaker kitchen (on the ground floor of the house), they used pieces of stone and marble to create a burn proof, cool and super tough floor that could withstand cooking for dozens and dozens of people a day. It's beautiful.
Small pieces of scrap stone and marble are cheap and often unsellable by stoneyards. Why not collect up a number of pieces of really nice stone or marble and have them cut so that they can fit together like a patchwork quilt in your kitchen?
The differing shapes and colors will add a tremendous rustic feeling and unique style to what can be a very uniform space.
Sara and I both loved the idea of doing something like this in our own kitchen one day. Do you like the idea?
PS Want something super cheap and easier to implement? Go to Home Depot and buy their marble tiles and take off the shiny finish. See instructions for that idea here.