Enter your friendly neighborhood stone supplier. Not to be confused with fabricators, which cut the stone to your kitchen's specifications, these are repositories of raw material to pick from. Unlike sleek showrooms, we're talking dusty warehouses filled with slabs upon slabs of granite, marble, and quartz. It's Barney Rubble's dream house. Or maybe Dick Clark's.
Even if I know what I am looking for, I always take a few minutes to roam the aisles looking at all the materials. Some of the slabs are otherworldly, and it boggles your mind to think that they are actual natural materials that COME OUT OF THIS EARTH and not photographs from another planet. Seriously, some of them look like they rode in on a horse straight from Mars.
If you're unsure of where to go, fabricators often have a list of distributors they've worked with. Start there, and don't forget: leave no stone unturned. (I couldn't resist.)
(Images: Dabney Frake)