Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Busy Summer

We've had a busy Summer here at MTAC, and I wanted to share some pics of the things we've been working on. This Fall looks to be shaping up with some great projects as well.

As Fall approaches, perhaps you're asking yourself some questions about your home. If so, feel free to contact us by phone or email.

Enjoy the pics. Professional photography to come.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Home Expo Recap

The El Cerrito Home Expo was a hit once again thanks in part to the City of El Cerrito, the attendees, and the many exhibitors who came out.

The More Than A Carpenter booth was a complete success thanks to some of our amazing clients that came out to take the helm. Our hope was that people interested in MTAC would be able to hear what having a working relationship with us is like from the homeowner perspective. Thanks to the honesty of our clients we were able to accomplish just that. We're always happy to share references.

John Ferguson Sr., CR, CGBP had two great crowds again this year for his discussions on kitchen and bath remodeling, and working with archtects and contractors. Steve Swearengen, Architect, CGBP, LEED AP joined John Sr., as did new addition Becky Hatt of Haus Architecture + Interior Design. There were some great questions from the crowd, and some equally great answers from the panel.

See you all next year for the 3rd Annual El Cerrito Home Expo!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

El Cerrito Home Expo

Come join us this Sunday, July 28th at the 2nd Annual El Cerrito Home Expo. It's a great opportunity to come and meet home improvement businesses from around the area and see what it is they do.

The Expo is from 1:00 to 5:00 at the El Cerrito Community Center, 7007 Moeser Ln
El Cerrito, CA 94530.

John Ferguson Sr., CR, CGBP will be the featured speaker of two breakout sessions. The first is from 2:00 - 2:45 and is entitled "
Bathroom & Kitchen Remodels - The Good, the Bad & the Ugly." The second is from 3:45 - 4:30 and entitled "Working with Architects & General Contractors." Both sessions filled their rooms last year so be sure to get there early!

In addition, MTAC will have a display table operated by past clients who will be able to tell you all about working with More Than A Carpenter on a home remodel.

Hope to see you there!!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Pictures as promised.

Here are the kitchen remodel pictures I promised earlier today. The project is coming along beautifully. I can't wait to see it all done.

Back to blogging!!

I've been away from the blog for a bit, but I'm back and ready to blog. Here are a couple of pictures from a kitchen remodel we are doing in San Anselmo, CA.

I'll be visiting the site today to take some updated digital images (amateur of course). Professional photography will be down the road just a bit.

Look for the photos this afternoon and have a great start to your week!

Thursday, April 30, 2009


Check out one of our friends new websites here. Roberts Electric is a trusted electrician out of Oakland and does superior work.

Cheers RECO!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Rotavision Bowlathon

On April 4th John Ferguson Jr. and Sr. both had the pleasure of participating in the 4th annual Bowlathon to support Rotavision International.

Rotavision International provides eye surgery, physician training and technical support worldwide for children and adults needing sight-saving eye surgery.

The mission of Rotavision International is to improve eye health in developing countries worldwide by teaching local physicians new techniques and providing them with the equipment to accomplish the sight-saving surgeries. The mission is carried out by physicians and Rotarians from San Francisco Rotary Club #2, working as a team with physicians and Rotarians from other Rotary Clubs in the United States and with clubs in the host cities.

A great time was had by all. It was an honor to help raise funds for this exciting, sustainable cause.


Temperatures are going to reach the high 80's again today. And with that in mind I thought I would stick with the trend of exterior photos. Man I wish I could jump in this pool.

This project was a special one for us. We've done some pretty interesting things over the years, from violin features on houses to putting glass elevators in Claremont mansions, but this one was by far the outlier of 2008. In the images to come, check out a landscaping project we did in Lafayette, CA. Complete with waterfall and bridge.

Cheers to everyone who collaborated on some very hot, and some very cold days. Enjoy.

Photography by our very own Aaron Dana, General Manager of More Than A Carpenter.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Signs Are In.

Our new office signs arrived today. Look for them to mark our territory by the end of the week. Thanks goes to our friends over at Design A Sign.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Happy Weekend.

I don't know about you, but lately I've found myself more consumed with the financial weather, than the weather outside. Well not this weekend. Today I'm less concerned about the economic forecast, and more concerned with the forecast for sunshine.

I'll leave you on this fine Friday with some shots of a backyard project we're doing at the moment. We can all appreciate that now (more than ever) seems like a good time to stay home. Perhaps then now (more than ever) is a good time to make home a place we'll want to stay.

Remember, sometimes the smallest projects are the ones with the biggest impacts. Cheers, and happy weekend! - MTAC

When we arrived:


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Un-masking Tape

We all like to see things before we spend our money on them, and home remodeling projects are no different. But sometimes that can be a problem. Computer Aided Drafting has brought us a long way, but even it can leave you wanting more.

Here's a picture of something Steve and John Sr. came up with on a recent trip to a kitchen remodel we're doing in San Anselmo. With the use of blue masking tape they were able to give our clients a feel for what a niche would look like in their space. Is there something you would like to see in yours?

Monday, April 6, 2009

New Jobsite Signs!

Many of you are used to seeing our old, round top signs of yesteryear. Well, with the changes to our identity come changes to our tools. Look out for our new signs in a neighborhood near you!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Catching the Bus

Here is our sole commercial remodel of last year. Commercial projects aren't something we do every day here at MTAC, but we enjoy one from time to time....

Design by our friends over at Graff Architects. Photography by David Shackleton!

Click on the images to enlarge.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The More Than A Carpenter Logo

For those of you familiar with the More Than A Carpenter camp over our now 20 years, you might have noticed a few changes with the way we look. Click on the images below to see how much.

The circular logo served us well from 1988 til 2008. But this past year it reached its end.

The responsibility of our new visual identity is not only to stand as the graphic representation of our firm, but in imagery we hope it serves as a compliment to the projects we design and build, knowing all along that they are the truest representation of who we are....

Here are our new Primary and Secondary logos, featured in all 6 colors of the new More Than A Carpenter identity palette. Thanks to exoatmospheric for their brilliance in design.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Hola from Mexico.

The musica is being strummed as I sip my americano at a corner cafe along the cobblestone path that leads to my casa on the techos. Much more rudimentary than the buildings stateside, their charms are not lost on me. In the Estados Unidos or in Mexico home is home. I feel at home here and safe too. All the alarms on CNN should not be aimed toward Mexico at large. Like the states some communities are held hostage by an evil few. God forbid an entire population become paralyzed by fear.

To prevent this may I offer a time worn solution: "Mi casa es su casa."

Whether we build with boards and sheetrock, or cement and stone, we must return to building friendships beyond our own front porch.

Adios Amigos,

John Ferguson Sr.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Blast from the past.

Here is a whole house remodel from Berkeley, California, featured in the May 1998 issue of Qualified Remodeler Magazine.

Design and Construction by More Than A Carpenter.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Baseball and Remodeling

It happens every spring... Thirty Major League Baseball organizations spend March in the South to get ready for a 6 month-long season and 162 games. For some it's the chance to seek better weather, but for all it's a time to prepare.

In remodeling (just like in baseball) if you're going to be successful in Summer, you'd better get started in Spring. Here's a couple reasons why:

1. Just like a baseball team, with a remodeling team you have to know who's playing what position, and if the chemistry is there. Seasons and projects are both processes that have their ups and downs. And just like teams do in Spring training, it's important to start by evaluating goals together, that way the trust is always there.

2. Baseball teams and remodeling projects both take a while to plan. Only while baseball teams go South to prepare, remodeling projects get ready where they are. With either, the important thing is that they're ready when the season starts. For a baseball team it takes the players being in shape, and for a successful remodeling project the design needs to be in shape too.

If you started a remodel today, is your whole team in place? And if so, do you have a design that's in good shape?

Spring is the right time to be asking.

Go A's.


An Very Insightful Post

the search for silver linings

By: Christine Wong Yap

Very cool.

Carpentry + graphic design = something very cool . Check out the last one on their products page.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday morning.

The boys are hard at work this morning.

The designers are dialed in:

And the green builders are making it happen in the field:

Cheers to the sunshine. Happy Friday.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The many postures of an architect pt. 1

It occurred to me the other day that architects do a lot of cool things. Namely Steve Swearengen. Every time I pass his office, or have a meeting, or visit jobsites, or have lunch with the guy it's a good time.

Exhibit A:

This is Steve's workplace, sort of. That picture was taken last week while Steve and I measured the interior of a client's El Cerrito home. Pretty glamourous right? True, his job might have some perks (like the view from some of the homes we remodel), but more often I see him in his office positioned something like this:

I think he's drawing in that one, but he very well may be crying from the stress... Kidding of course. He's a rock star.

Anyhow, I've decided I'm going to let you into the life of our Steve, with the intention of revealing how his efforts (and the teams) turn stuff like this:

into stuff like this:

And of course I'll poke a little fun... Stay tuned.

Image by Dave Shackleton in that last one. The project won a 2008 Remmie.

P.S. I don't have Steve's permission for this so I might have to use some of my spy skills.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

My Hiro

Here's a great article about a great man.


Hiro is a long time friend and an amazing designer.

His son Ari is one of my best friends and in the marketing department at Kawasaki. It's great to be able to bounce ideas off of each other from different industries. Ideas like blogging... and Facebook.

Read the article and you're sure to be impressed with Hiro, one of my all time faves.

You can also visit www.mmkarch.com to see more of his projects.

The Queen and Frank Israel

I was flipping through some old vacation photos the other day and I came across these ones of The Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, Scotland. The Palace is The Queen's official residence in Scotland, situated at the end of the Royal Mile. The pictures feature the ruins of the Augustinian Abbey that was built in 1126, and remains attached to the palace.

As I looked at the images I couldn't help but think I'd seen something like that before. Only the ruins and palace are one of a kind, and I'm not that well traveled. After some consideration I made up my mind that what I was really thinking about was the late Frank Israel's "Lamy-Newton pavilion" in Hancock Park, CA. Only in Israel's 1988 design the extension of the house is the new, whereas in the case of the palace, the extension is the old. Nevertheless they are both cool examples of contrast.

I'm not sure what the design process was surrounding the palace, but Israel was quoted in his self titled book to say," Extremely adventurous clients, the Lamy-Newtons not only favored the new, but asked for the outrageous. A strange inversion of the norm arose in which the architect had to restrain the clients, and not the opposite." I respect Mr. Israel for having the client's best interests in mind. That's something we're most committed to also.

The finished product is amazing. Notice how even with a new and different ascthetic, he was able to obey the principles of symetry. Wow...

Hope you like the pics. There's more of projects like this to come. Click to enlarge.

I'm Pumped!

Just got an early release copy of Sarah Suzanka's latest tome in her "...not so big..." series, Not So Big Remodeling.

Alongside co-author Marc Vassalo she's bringing her particularly rational and sensitive wisdom to bear on a discipline of residential design I find to be the most challenging: Remodeling. I'm like, "anybody can start fresh with new construction and tailor it to meet their needs. Try remodeling something sometime..."

Thanks to Suzanka's success in other aspects of her "not so big' uh, empire, her publisher appears to finally be open to letting the door for the rest of us be opened. Whatever the real reason is, we say go for it Sarah! (And Marc)

Supposed to rain this weekend... Thinking about cozying upnext to the hearth with this one. Will let you know what I think soon.

By: Steve Swearengen, Architect, LEED AP, CGBP

Steve Swearengen is an award-winning architect and the Director of Design for More Than A Carpenter.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Heart to Heart Celebrates 20 Years!

Valentine’s Day was special this year as MTAC was able to support the 20th anniversary of Heart to Heart at the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley.

Heart to Heart is an independent non-profit organization founded in 1989 to teach physicians in St. Petersburg (then Leningrad, USSR) how to perform open-heart surgery on children. The break-up of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War literally opened the door for Heart to Heart to expand its teaching to other regions of Russia, giving millions more children access to modern heart care.

Heart to Heart’s focus since 1989 has been teaching throughout Russia. Valentine’s Day marked 20 years of surgical-educational missions to that country and the 7,000 children whose lives have been saved by their Russian colleagues. Heart to Heart-Sponsored sites have already given access to modern heart care for children to the 68 million people living in three of Russia’s seven vast districts.

A great time was had by all at the event. We look forward to continuing support of Heart to Heart’s heroic and sustainable efforts.

Picture of the day.

This picture was taken of our only commercial project last year.

While the building is of course fixed in place, Dave and I wanted to convey the motion that surrounds the building every day.

Click the image to enlarge.

House Colors

Ever wonder what Steve Swearengen was doing before he was Director of Design at MTAC?? Designing of course...

In addition to having been published in Sunset Magazine and others, one of Steve's past designs is also featured here in Susan Hershman's House Colors.

The Oakland dwelling can be found on page 166. The home was new construction.

Click on the image to enlarge.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Something's Missing.

If you've passed by our building recently you may have noticed something missing: our signs! Yes our signs have been laid to rest... Finally.

While we won't be moving our location , we will be moving up. Since changing our logo last year we've been in need of an update.

So for now, please don't forget where we live (we're still at 9825 San Pablo Ave.). New signs are coming soon!