When we asked Aja Daashuur to describe her home in three words she didn't hesitate, "witchy, sacred, magic." And after stepping into her 100-year-old A-Frame nestled in the hills of Los Angeles' Echo Park neighborhood, it's easy to see why. A spellbinding charm and mystical energy envelop you upon entering — and we're not alone in this sentiment.
Affectionately known as the “witch house around town" the spiritual advisor and founder of The Spirit Guide Coach tells us she's had "hundreds of witches" in the home since holding all of their workshops in person pre-pandemic. "This house has helped to heal a lot of people, myself included," she explains.
Originally built by set designer and playwright Howard Arden Edwards in the 1920s, the house is now listed on the Los Angeles historical preservation catalog. "He worked for the silent movie industry and the Pasadena Playhouse so there are beautifully painted details throughout the home," she adds. This also means no renovations are allowed, in an effort to keep the original art and framework intact, but Daashuur wouldn't dare disturb the magic anyway. "I had never seen a home quite like this one," she continues. "Mr. Edwards put a lot of love into the space. The grounds themselves are so inviting. You feel as though you are in a different world — out in the middle of nowhere — instead of a few blocks away from the hustle and bustle of Highland Park."
The A-frame's alchemy isn't lost on Daashuur as she details a long list of things she loves about the enchanting space from the hummingbirds that make their nests there every year to the cats who love to jump the fence and lie in the sun, or the vegetation surrounding the home that "really calms the nervous system." She continues: "Honestly, when we first moved in, I kept expecting things to come to an end. This house has changed my life and brought an incredible amount of transformation and expansion."
How she came to live in the house was also serendipitous. After living in Brooklyn for three years, Daashuur and her partner were "feeling stagnant" and missing their California home. "I was pretty resistant to the idea of moving," she recalls. "I saw it as a failure if I couldn’t 'make 'New York work." But within the first hour of a 48-hour trip back to L.A. she ditched the negative self-talk. "I was being ridiculous," she laughs. "I love Los Angeles, and I wanted to come back home." So, she started manifesting the interstate move thinking it would be at least another year or so down the line, but fate, of course, had other plans. After a friend told her about a "funky house in Eagle Rock" and sent over some videos it was love at first sight. "There she was — yes I call the house she — beautiful, special, and waiting for us to say 'yes,'" Daashuur recalls fondly. "I believe we were fated to live in this magical space."
Despite it being the "wrong time entirely," they reached out to the owners of the home and within 30 days had packed up their tiny one-bedroom Brooklyn Brownstone and were driving a U-haul across the country to move into their new home. The house was a blank canvas and almost completely empty when they first moved so Daashuur worked with the architecture to design the space but there was no budget. Instead, she enlisted her DIY skills and made cinder block shelves throughout, choosing mostly vintage furniture or pieces that had been passed down from family members. "You don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a beautiful home," she stresses. "You just need to love the space you're in, and use that love to inform your design decisions. If you love something, do it. If you’re not obsessed with a piece or a certain renovation you’ve been contemplating, forget it."
Her favorite piece is the Monchair Tambura singing chair. The strings on the back vibrate sound waves throughout your entire body. "I utilize it all of the time with clients and it helps to realign your chakras and move stagnant energy out of the body," she says. "It also feels amazing. If I’m stressed you’ll definitely find me sitting in that chair to ground myself."
Overall, the home feels incredibly personal, filled with history and meaning with unique artifacts, crystals, abstract artworks in rich hues, and layered rugs in playful patterns. None of it makes sense on paper but in reality, it totally works and our eyes were getting a workout from the visual feast before us. "We aren’t designers," Daashuur admits. "We aren’t perfect and we don’t wish our home to represent a lifestyle that doesn’t feel 'lived in' if that makes sense. Our space isn’t a set, it's a home and we want it to reflect that." And it does. To be honest, this maximalist design is a welcome approach after so many years of stripped back and sparse minimal spaces. "I am always trying to do 'less' but my partner has reminded me that I’m an undercover maximalist," she says. "I try to tone things down, but I can’t help myself. I love color, texture, and pieces that I feel tell a story."
The trick to making it work says Daashuur is to ensure each piece lives within the same tonal family while balancing out all the colors with neutral hues. "As long as rugs, textiles, and accents have similar colorways I believe that the clash will be complimentary versus over stimulating," she adds. And start slowly, she urges. "There’s no rush. Try a colorful pillow or comforter or perhaps some colored glassware. You don’t have to go all-in. Remember you have the power to change whatever you want. If it doesn't work then go back to what feels good and doesn't stress you out!"
When we ask Daashuur to get specific about her design approach she simply responds with: "If it's magical and brings a sense of warmth into my space, then I’ll find the perfect spot for it." She also believes every object has a unique energy and since their home is essentially one large room, there is a balance that must be reached. "I do a lot of reconfiguring during different seasons," she adds. "Changing artwork, rugs, and décor accents—it actually helps to calm me down after a long day." Since her job requires so much of her physical, emotional, and spiritual self, the space needed to give back just as much as she puts in.
A quick glance at her daily schedule and you can see why. After waking up around 7 a.m., Daashuur clears her body and space with rose water and cinnamon smoke before meditating for about 30 minutes. After "spending the day talking to the dead" through Past Life Regression workshops, Spirit Church, or another metaphysical event, Aja takes the dogs outside for some playtime, sun worship, and a long walk before wrapping at around 8 p.m. "My work schedule is pretty intense right now, which makes my space — the way it’s laid out and designed — so important for my mental and emotional health," she adds.
Infusing her heritage and the stories of her ancestors into the space was also top of mind when approaching the design. "Japanese, African, and Germanic influences from our childhood can be found throughout the home as remembrances of those who came before us," she continues. Her main goal, however, was for the home to feel comfortable and to be surrounded by pieces they love or inspire them. "Our homes are sacred places," she outlines. "They allow us to move through struggles and clarify our dreams. I wanted this house to feel like a retreat and it does."
While Daashuur and her partner have definitely had their "moments of going a bit nutty since Covid," she can’t imagine a better place to ride out all of the uncertainty that 2020 has brought. "This property really is a sanctuary," she says. "Our homes have inner children, just like us, so I try to have places that pop and are filled with joy around our home to lift us up and the energy of the space, particularly during tough times."
Living in an A-frame has always been a dream of Daashuur's. "Perhaps I lived in one in a former life? I love triangles in general, they are the strongest shape in existence and their shape can be seen in structures around the world and throughout time," she explains. "This shape, this A-frame has been a strong ally and friend for us. I hope that if I ever move, that the space we enter can be half as magical and unique as this one. This house was made by hand, and with love — you can feel it." We couldn't agree more.