Did you try holding the alt key when moving the counters? You may have to enter the cheat "disableSnappingToSlotsOnAlt on" first; the effect of that is that objects will be freely placeable (and rotateable) while you hold down the alt key. This is, I believe, how the people who furnished these rooms were able to place them that way.
The ones in the second picture at the very front look like counter islands to me (the otehrs seem to be counters). The ones in the first pic I'm pretty sure must be counters, since there's an appliance and a sink in them.
Ah, ok thanks.
I'll try and see if I can create islands like that when I play the game later tonight. It might help if I do the island first so it has nothing to snap to and then build the rest of the kitchen.