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On materials: "Basic inexpensive stuff like corrugated sheet metal, stucco, and drywall can look really great if it's incorporated in modern and well-thought-out way."

On pricing: "Everything is negotiable, and if you're nice and can give someone a good excuse to give you a deal, they usually will."

On the floor plan: "I located the bathrooms, a bank of cabinets, and the closet between the street and the bedrooms [to create a sound buffer]."

On the final product: "The best advice I got on this project, and advice I give now, came from a wise friend and seasoned architect. He told me: 'Don't try to do everything in one house, especially your first house.'"

Find copies of our July/August Designers at Home issue on newsstands, order a risk-free subscription here, buy Dwell for iPad and smartphones here, or call 1-866-565-8551.

Architect Jayna Cooper designed and built her new home in L.A.

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