We drove to New jersey to "select the slab" (this is the name given by stone dealers to this part of the kitchen counter process. It is also a phrase that will resonate with anyone who has ever walked the halls of a bath house.) We purchased the granite through IKEA when we got the cabinetry. We did this because they throw in the sink for free if you buy at least 25 sq feet of counter top. (And the sink you get is a higher grade stainless than the weak and thin stainless that IKEA sells.) If we got to that threshold with our small galley kitchen, I can't imagine anyone else having a problem with this requirement. IKEA had a good selection of stone, some of which I recognized, including Bianco Antico which has a blend of whites, blacks, browns, blueish and smokey quartz and flashes of mica in undulating veins. Nice harmonizer to the stainless steel appliances, gloss white cabs and black granite floor. IKEA warns you that one downside to buying a stone countertop through them is that you will not be allowed to select the slab. Because I am not easily convinced that any policy established in this world is honorable or upheld or not circumventable with ease, I called the dealership that contracts with IKEA and set up an appointment to select the slab. When we got to the warehouse in New jersey, we found we had the option of picking out any stone we wanted, not just Bianco Antico (without forfeiting the free sink!). We spent a half hour looking at dozens of options, one or two of which would have meant an upcharge. When we settled on our original choice, the staff asked if we wanted to see the several slabs of that variety before picking one. We did! Amazingly, overhead rolling cranes and huge grippers on chains carried slabs above the shoppers. I crouched once or twice as a huge piece of Brazilian riverbed passed overhead.
A week later, I received a call saying that our chosen slab had been delivered from the warehouse to the shop. Time to schedule the making of the template. Two guys with many years of experience and glue guns showed up at the appointed time and had the templates done in an hour.
Back on the phone with the dealer, I asked her if I could identify some sections of the slab that I really liked and one section that I did not like, so that the stone cutter could choose and avoid those sections. She said I would have to come to Jersey again to do this but reminded me that ordinarily this is not allowed because they have to cut the stone in the least wasteful way possible. I said that I understood this and that I had taken pictures of the slab and could send an email showing the parts I liked and the parts I didn't like. She told me that this would not be allowed, but I sent her the following two pictures. I kept the grammar simple because my interaction with the dealers at the warehouse, with the template makers, and eventually with the installers meant working with skilled people with limited English.