A cozy cottage, a lush garden and a white picket fence


Smack in the middle of Bristol's downtown historic district sits a street so small and unassuming you could (and many do) drive right by and miss it entirely. Named for one of the town's original settlers, a Boston investor who purchased the town with partners Walley, Burton and Oliver (who likewise have streets named for them), Byfield's small scale makes it one of the quietest in the district.

The cottage at 39 Byfield St. is an oasis within this oasis — a space that is at once energizing and calming. Dating to 1880 with two bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms over nearly 1,500 square feet, the home is situated in the middle of a lovely garden surrounded by a white fence perfectly scaled to the property. Mature perennials, including a spectacular wysteria vine, hydrangea, a small vegetable garden and shade trees, comprise a garden that is large enough to enjoy, yet small enough to manage.

Inside, the home has been finished with an artist's sense of joy and color, and a traveler's eye for unique materials and accents. Exquisite glass tile mosaic is found throughout the home, most notably on the iridescent kitchen backsplash. Natural tile throughout the kitchen, office and dining area, with red glass mosaic wainscoting along one wall, lend a Mediterranean feel to much of the downstairs.

Creative accents and fixtures, and built-in cabinets and shelving in the main living room, kitchen and office, add visual interest and maximize storage.

Byfield is narrow, but with off-street parking for two cars, that shouldn't be a problem. In fact, you can leave your car parked for days on end as everything you need (including fine kitchens run by two James Beard Award nominees for 2012!) is within a few minutes' walk. This is a truly unique home in a town that still manages to be as wonderful to visit as it is livable for its residents.

Just the facts


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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.