At Cory Farms Past & Presents, shopping is a one-of-a-kind experience.
By Nicole Maranhas • Photography by Caroline Goddard
hrough the doorway of an antique barn, there is a twinkle of light. A cluster of taffy-colored candlesticks nearly glow from their perch atop a rustic table, giving a playful burst of color to a room that mostly evokes an ocean breeze, with driftwood stars, cotton Ibiza throws, and crisp white pillows with Mediterranean-blue prints. If you imagine kicking off your sandals outside the door and curling up for a nap in the corner, you wouldn’t be the first.
Such is the world of Cory Farms Past & Presents, where a cheerful salad bowl just right for summer picnics might have you suddenly dreaming of the French countryside, or a porcelain egg cup could transport you to a breakfast table in London. “I like entertaining,” says proprietor Denys Eftekhar, a former graphic designer who used to dream of opening her own shop—even back in her high school years, working part time in a store and imagining how different it would look if she were the owner. She was looking for the right space when she found the 1849 farmhouse in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. “I bought it in two seconds when I saw it,” she says. Over the past four years, she has transformed the bucolic two-acre property—boasting a farmhouse, three barns and a chicken coop—into the main gift shop, coastal-inspired “She Shed,” and thoughtfully curated “Antiques Gallery,” set among dreamy plantings and a collection of vintage tractors. “I wanted to create an experience where people could come in and see things they haven’t seen before,” says Eftekhar.
Her love of being a good hostess and eye for design are evident in each space, beginning with the vintage farmhouse kitchen, where Scandinavian dish cloths and artisanal honeys entice visitors alongside bright Melamine dishes, olive-wood serving trays, and creamy natural-wax candles in miniature milk bottles. “I love American- and European-made products that are really beautiful quality,” says Eftekhar, who travels at home and abroad multiple times a year to seek out unusual finds. She is partial to artists—light-hearted donkey prints.
In the “Dining Room,” elegant wedding gifts and unique jewelry range from spectacular jewel-toned horticulture vases to flirty Parisian necklaces. The glittering array in her “Shore Finds” room includes pearlescent servingware, hand-painted glass ornaments (from a ruby-striped lighthouse to a sparkling pirate ship) and creamy sea-salt soaps. Each piece is impeccably crafted, thoughtfully chosen, artfully displayed. “I buy based on color and texture and things that I love,” Eftekhar says. The recently renovated “Antiques Gallery” is a collaboration with her husband, a passionate collector who finds curiosities from magic lanterns to vintage microscopes, as well as antique instruments, timepieces and furniture, during their travels.
At the holidays, the kitchen becomes a Nordic wonderland, with a seaside Christmas in the “Shore Finds” room, a formal holiday display in the “Dining Room,” and trees throughout. “It’s magical, fun, and brings out the kid in everybody,” says Eftekhar, who also hosts a Memorial Day antique car show and other community events throughout the year. This year, she was honored as the “Woman-owned Business of the Year” by the Newport County Chamber of Commerce, a testament to the experience she provides to her customers. “In these days of online shopping, I wanted to create a store that is very service-oriented,” she says, “where the whole space would be a pleasure.”