One of the most enjoyable tasks in planning a new kitchen is picking the stone for the countertops, backsplashes and other decorative accents.

Fortunately, we have several big stone yards in our Lowcountry area that provide literally thousands of options in stone, colors and texture. The beauty of the stone yard is that you will be able to see the stone in a large format, not just a small sample block.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Take your time

Visiting a stone yard can be daunting. Take the time to wander around, take notes on what you like, compare colors and movement. Look at the stone up close, from different angles and distances. Take photos so that you can remember which stone is which.

  • Bring samples

Bring along anything that will affect your stone choice, like cabinet samples, floor tile, paint colors, wallpaper or fabric samples.

  • Consider the application

Be sure to tell the stone rep where your stone will be used: fireplace, kitchen countertops, floors, vanities, bathroom floors, walls or countertops.

Some surface choices, such as quartz and granite, require less maintenance than others.

A stone such as marble needs more care in a kitchen or high-traffic area, and the appearance may change over time. Many folks love that patina, but you need to know in advance what to expect.

  • Pick out a few slabs

When choosing natural stone, such as granite, marble, onyx, quartzite, limestone or travertine, you will actually get to choose your slab. In a large yard, your slab can be moved using forklifts so that you can see the slab in its entirety in good light.

Because stone is sliced like a loaf of bread, there is likely not to be too much difference between adjacent slabs, but be sure to carefully examine the slab you choose.

  • Fabrication makes a difference

Choosing stone is the first step. When choosing your fabricator and installer, always ask for references from clients, review recent jobs and check online reviews.

Whom you select to finish and install your stone can make all the difference.

Andrea Antunes McGilton is project manager at Distinctive Granite and Marble, with showrooms in Okatie; Lady’s Island; Pooler, Ga., and on Hilton Head Island.