Make friends with your local stone shop, chances are they are throwing away nice chunks of granite and marble.
Back when we lived in the Big City, Mark went to work for a guy who ran a marble and granite company. He was Italian, and if he didn't have Mafia connections, he at least intimated that he did. He was a nice guy and since he ran a stone business, all the townhouses he was building all had marble baths and granite counter-tops. They sold like hotcakes.
We learned a lot about the stone business. For example, the "marble" lobbies of the law firms I was working in at the time were actually thin veneers of stone which was glued to the sheet rock. Donald Trump loves this sort of deceit - a building that looks like solid rock but is actually a thin veneer. Sort of says a lot about the man, don't it?
But that is how stonework is done these days - it is a form of siding, really. They cut it into thin slabs at the quarry and then ship it to local stone shops, who cut it into wall panels or countertops and then finish and polish the edges. It does look good, and a marble shower is nicer than a tile one only because it has far less grout to scrub and caulk.
The funny thing about the business is that small pieces of rock are not really usable. Anything less than counter-width (about 30 inches) is thrown away. Cutouts for sinks and the like are thrown away. For the astute scavenger, this can be a treasure trove.
As I noted in an earlier posting, we had a granite top made for a piece of furniture that was pretty, but had a shitty oak top that was warped. We took that top off and replaced it with a scrap piece of granite (cut and polished for $60) and suddenly, it is a new piece of furniture!
Our fireplace was looking a little sad, with a brick hearth that was stained from years of use. We had a scrap piece cut to fit, and laid leveling compound on the bricks ($20 a bag from Lowe's) and now the fireplace looks sharp!
The new granite hearth looks great, even if the dog photo-bombed it.
This is not the first time we've done this, however. A cheap set of IKEA cabinets looked like a million bucks when our stone friend cut up some scrap pieces from an office building lobby installation job. Small pieces of granite or marble, often thrown away as trash, can be cut and fit to cover end tables and outdoor side tables (it is, after all, waterproof).
If you are a sculptor (but then again, no) such scrap pieces can be cut and beveled and made into a base for your sculptures (as I did in Prep school). There is so much you can do with this stuff.
And they throw it out by the dumpster-load. On a recent visit to a stone shop we found two dumpsters out back, as the owner was tired of having "all this scrap stone around" and threw it all away. We were there for hours, picking out good pieces.
Get to know your local stone shop. You can find real bargains there, if you are not looking for a complete counter-top set or a marble shower enclosure. Small pieces of stone can be had for cheap, and they can make the ordinary look extraordinary!