131-Day House

written by:
July 11, 2012

Architect Jayna Cooper had never designed a house before, much less played general contractor, when she broke ground on her new home in the middle of Los Angeles in 2009. After a grueling four months of hands-on hard work—managing subcontractors, sourcing materials, driving the front loader—she moved in. Here, she walks us through her completed home and reveals what it took to make this $200-per-square-foot abode a reality.

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  Architect Jayna Cooper had never designed a house before, much less played general contractor, when she broke ground on her new home in the middle of Los Angeles in 2009. After a grueling four months of hands-on work—managing subcontractors, sourcing materials, driving the front loader—she moved in. With a façade made of corrugated sheet metal, Cooper walks us through her completed home and reveals what it took to make this $200-per-square-foot abode a reality.  Photo by: Mikey Tnasuttimonkol
    Architect Jayna Cooper had never designed a house before, much less played general contractor, when she broke ground on her new home in the middle of Los Angeles in 2009. After a grueling four months of hands-on work—managing subcontractors, sourcing materials, driving the front loader—she moved in. With a façade made of corrugated sheet metal, Cooper walks us through her completed home and reveals what it took to make this $200-per-square-foot abode a reality.

    Photo by: Mikey Tnasuttimonkol

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  Architect Jayna Cooper designed and built her new home in L.A.  Photo by: Mikey Tnasuttimonkol
    Architect Jayna Cooper designed and built her new home in L.A.

    Photo by: Mikey Tnasuttimonkol

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  Her Lasalle patio set is from Target and her Engineer dining table and Orbit armchairs are from CB2.  Photo by: Mikey Tnasuttimonkol
    Her Lasalle patio set is from Target and her Engineer dining table and Orbit armchairs are from CB2.

    Photo by: Mikey Tnasuttimonkol

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  Though Cooper kept the fixtures rather humble, she did run a splashy red motif throughout. The pillars make a statement with Painter’s Choice Gloss Apple Red.  Photo by: Mikey Tnasuttimonkol
    Though Cooper kept the fixtures rather humble, she did run a splashy red motif throughout. The pillars make a statement with Painter’s Choice Gloss Apple Red.

    Photo by: Mikey Tnasuttimonkol

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  The Alien pendant light with red cord is by Constantin Wortmann for Next Design.  Photo by: Mikey Tnasuttimonkol
    The Alien pendant light with red cord is by Constantin Wortmann for Next Design.

    Photo by: Mikey Tnasuttimonkol

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  In the kitchen, she splurged on a Karbon faucet from Kohler.  Photo by: Mikey Tnasuttimonkol
    In the kitchen, she splurged on a Karbon faucet from Kohler.

    Photo by: Mikey Tnasuttimonkol

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  The house is quite vertical, but Cooper, with boyfriend Tonu Mets, designed it with an eye toward outdoor spaces like carport shown here and the fire pit out back.  Photo by: Mikey Tnasuttimonkol
    The house is quite vertical, but Cooper, with boyfriend Tonu Mets, designed it with an eye toward outdoor spaces like carport shown here and the fire pit out back.

    Photo by: Mikey Tnasuttimonkol

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  The outdoor fire pit.  Photo by: Mikey Tnasuttimonkol
    The outdoor fire pit.

    Photo by: Mikey Tnasuttimonkol

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  Get Fired
Cooper’s yard is small, but she wanted a spot for barbecues and socializing. The fire pit she devised was actually made of construction castoffs—she used leftover ends of framing two-by-fours for forms and poured the small concrete fire pit at the same time as 
the driveway slab—which means that it was very cheap but still offers a hot spot to relax with guests.  Photo by: Mikey Tnasuttimonkol
    Get Fired Cooper’s yard is small, but she wanted a spot for barbecues and socializing. The fire pit she devised was actually made of construction castoffs—she used leftover ends of framing two-by-fours for forms and poured the small concrete fire pit at the same time as the driveway slab—which means that it was very cheap but still offers a hot spot to relax with guests.

    Photo by: Mikey Tnasuttimonkol

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  Mount Up
Keeping a house clean can be a challenge for anyone, but Cooper made things just a tick easier by getting her furniture up off the floor. “I chose to wall mount lots of the furniture so that I could easily sweep or let my Roomba run underneath without crashing into the legs.” She used knotty pine for cabinets and a chest of drawers of her own design and suggests installing wood blocking behind the drywall for extra support.irobot.com  Photo by: Mikey Tnasuttimonkol
    Mount Up Keeping a house clean can be a challenge for anyone, but Cooper made things just a tick easier by getting her furniture up off the floor. “I chose to wall mount lots of the furniture so that I could easily sweep or let my Roomba run underneath without crashing into the legs.” She used knotty pine for cabinets and a chest of drawers of her own design and suggests installing wood blocking behind the drywall for extra support.irobot.com

    Photo by: Mikey Tnasuttimonkol

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  Playing Defense
Cooper was faced with a conundrum when designing her property gate. She didn’t want passersby to be able to see in, but neither did she want a totally solid barrier keeping street life out. Using spare sheet metal, she fashioned a gate that’s solid on top and porous steel wire on the bottom. With a tube steel structure for support and a DoorKing 9100 motor to open and close the heavy fence, she was set. doorking.com  Photo by: Mikey Tnasuttimonkol
    Playing Defense Cooper was faced with a conundrum when designing her property gate. She didn’t want passersby to be able to see in, but neither did she want a totally solid barrier keeping street life out. Using spare sheet metal, she fashioned a gate that’s solid on top and porous steel wire on the bottom. With a tube steel structure for support and a DoorKing 9100 motor to open and close the heavy fence, she was set. doorking.com

    Photo by: Mikey Tnasuttimonkol

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  Traffic Gem
To mitigate the noisy bustle of South La Brea Avenue, Cooper designed the interior of her house so that less-used spaces would face the street. “I located the bathrooms, a bank of cabinets, and the closet between the street and the bedrooms,” she reports, creating an aural buffer zone that helps her sleep at night. 

Up from the Bottom
For the large windows in the living room and bedrooms, Cooper chose bottom-up roller shades to allow for both plenty of privacy and cascades of natural light. The translucent fabric of the Window Vogue shades means that even when the shades are rolled up to head height, a bit of California sun still shines through.santamonicashadeandscreen.com  Photo by: Mikey Tnasuttimonkol
    Traffic Gem To mitigate the noisy bustle of South La Brea Avenue, Cooper designed the interior of her house so that less-used spaces would face the street. “I located the bathrooms, a bank of cabinets, and the closet between the street and the bedrooms,” she reports, creating an aural buffer zone that helps her sleep at night. Up from the Bottom For the large windows in the living room and bedrooms, Cooper chose bottom-up roller shades to allow for both plenty of privacy and cascades of natural light. The translucent fabric of the Window Vogue shades means that even when the shades are rolled up to head height, a bit of California sun still shines through.santamonicashadeandscreen.com

    Photo by: Mikey Tnasuttimonkol

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  The floor plan.  Photo by: Mikey Tnasuttimonkol
    The floor plan.

    Photo by: Mikey Tnasuttimonkol

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