Miss Midgley’s is one of Brisbane’s dreamiest new boutique hotels, sporting a pastel pink theme and beautifully renovated interiors. But behind the heritage-listed building’s recent restoration is almost 160 years’ worth of history.
It’s hard to believe that architects and mother-daughter duo Lisa and Izzie White bought the property last year in a state of disrepair. It had lived many lives since being built as a residence in the 1860s, before a local teacher called Annie Midgley turned her family home into a private school to aid overcrowding at New Farm state school across the road.
‘She called it Miss Midgley’s Educational Establishment,’ Izzie explains. ‘We knew immediately that Miss Midgley would be our inspiration on the building’s next journey.’
Keeping her name and school as their inspiration, they’ve created a charming accomodation of five self-contained apartments. Each has its own outdoor space and a full kitchen, featuring terrazzo benches and terracotta features. Guests can now stay in rooms dubbed ‘Principals Office’ or ‘Locker Room’ as playful references to the property’s past, while making the most of a new tropical pool and sun deck area!
It took just 12 months for the clever mother-daughter team to refurbish, redesign and open Miss Midgley’s doors as a boutique hotel. ‘This includes getting the development approved by council and the design period,’ Izzie says, crediting the impressive turnaround to her mum’s architectural career and involvement in small scale developments.
The pair also ‘made a lot of decisions on site’ as construction unfolded, finding new ways to pay homage to the building’s layered history. They embraced its heritage facade and took cues from the stone walls for their contemporary palette of pink, rust, and brown. Izzie and Lisa even enlisted architectural historian Marianne Taylor to write up a book on the history of the house and the land, with a copy now thoughtfully included in each room.
‘Our early heritage investigations revealed many layers of pink paint,’ Izzie adds. ‘The building has been painted pink for over 120 years and was known as the Pink Flats from the 1950s [when it was converted into apartments]. As the new custodians of the building, we didn’t want to lose that history.’ Instead, they opted for a modern version of the shade, using a ½ strength coat of Dulux Quiet Pink for the exterior!
‘The building has a special feel about it,’ she says. ‘It has stood on that hill since the start of Brisbane’s development as a city and holds a special place in the community. You can feel that when you stay there – the past and present overlap.’