Welcome to the first edition of the Virtual Book Club. I along with three other bloggers will be sharing our interpretation of a different book each book on the fourth week of each month. On Thursday we will be sharing something home decor related to the book and on the following Saturday a culinary treat inspired by our book. This month our book is “Murder on the Orient Express” by Agatha Christie and it inspired me to create an art deco mirror and bar!

Disclaimer: Throughout this post you will find clickable links to products. Should you decide to purchase any of these products, I will earn a small commission at no extra charge to you.

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The Plot

If you haven’t already read it or watched the movie (several have been made), here is a brief synopsis. World famous detective Hercule Poirot, boards the Orient Express in Istanbul in the winter of 1934 to head back to London to solve a case. While on board, a murder occurs while the train is stuck in a large snow bank and police are not able to access the train. Poirot interviews all the characters and examines the murder scene along with other clues.

Spoiler alert – don’t read any further if you don’t want to know how it ends. Poirot discovers that the victim has given a false name. His real name is Cassetti and is an evil man who kidnapped a young girl, Daisy Armstrong, demanded a ransom, received the ransom but murdered the child anyhow. Unfortunately, Cassetti escaped punishment in the US. Twelve of the travellers on board the train had also given false names and they turned out to be related in one way or another to Daisy. As Cassetti had escaped punishment, the group of 12 formed their own jury and gave him the punishment he deserved – death – by each stabbing him once. Their reasoning was that they were saving any future children from being murdered by him. Poirot shared his conclusion with everyone but suggested that they hide the truth from the police because the murder was justified and they should not inflict more pain on the family. They agreed and decided to tell the police that the murderer was an enemy who had fled and the police accepted this.

What I loved about this book

I had heard of the Orient Express in terms of the book and movie, and while I do enjoy a mystery, I must say that what I enjoyed the most was being opened up to this luxurious form of travel. Not only is the train design elegant and rich, but the scenery is breathtaking. In this blog, I am going to share with you features of the train, travelling in the 1920’s and 1930’s, and I am going to create an Orient Express inspired bar and Art deco mirror.

The legendary Orient Express

The Orient Express ran from Paris, France to Istanbul, Turkey. Over the years, it had different routes and it even travelled to Athens, Greece from 1930 to 1962. It ceased being in operation in 2009 but in 2025 the Orient Express will be revived and launched in conjunction with a chain of luxurious hotels. Presently, 17 of the original cars are being refurbished. Oh how I would love to take this magical ride across Europe!

Did you know that the placement of your LUGGAGE LABEL conveyed very important messages?

Luggage labels began being used in the late 1800’s but were most prominent in the 1920’s and 1930’s. They were graphic and bold and told a story of where and how the owner of the luggage had travelled. It was like a flashy passport for everyone to see.

The labels, however, were not affixed by the owner of the luggage but rather by bellboys, porters or baggage handlers. The placement of the label was very important and signalled the following messages to the rest of the staff:

  • Near the bottom on the left = troublesome in nature
  • At the top near the handle = big tipper
  • An arc drawn in chalk in the upper left corner of the label = new traveler, treat him well so he comes back
  • No label = likely a travelling salesman.

The labels faded out of use in the 1930’s but they are in fact making a comeback! I look forward to seeing the graphic designs that new artists of the labels will create.

All Aboard!

Exterior:

Everything about the Orient Express was luxurious, starting with the exterior body of the trains being a creamy white with navy and gold details. The gold crest set the tone for high design and expectations of what lay inside.

By the way, see the window in the photo on the left – the oval one with a beautiful gold design? Well keep that in mind because I loved it so much that it inspired a project I created for this post.

Interior

The inside, did not disappoint. Classic art deco styling with elegant wood walls, carvings, fine furniture and decor greeted the guests. The original lounge cars were designed by decorator René Prou and master glassmaker René Lalique. Rather than share all the details in written form, I thought it would be better to share photos. Some of these photos are of the original train, some are of updated versions over the years, some are of the movies’ depiction and others are of the new Orient Express. Each photo has a link to it’s source where you can read more.

Dining and Lounging Cars

Sleeping Cars – Then and Now

The Bar Car

Did you know when I was young I was a dancer and one of the places I performed was an entertainment club in Japan? My roommate was Kate Hammett-Vaughn and she is an amazing jazz singer. I credit Kate for my love of jazz music. She introduced me to all the old favorites like Fly Me to the Moon or My Funny Valentine. The club we performed in was very elegant with a baby grand and dark, moody styling so when I saw the bar car of the Orient Express it brought me back to those days so long ago.

Dining car of the Orient Express
The Bar Car on the Orient Express

Can you imagine, relaxing here and listening to the soft chatter of the guests and the pianist playing as the train travelled through the night?

Pure bliss!

The Iconic Window

Oval window on the Orient Express that inspired my art deco mirror

Remember earlier in this post, how I drew your attention to the window on the train? Well, I wanted to re-create this window into an art deco mirror and incorporate it into the bar scene inspired by the Orient Express.

How I made the art deco mirror

Step 1 – Prepping and painting the frame

Remove the mirror from the frame, sand the frame and then wipe with a dampened cloth.

Paint the frame with Gleams gold metallic paint. Let dry.

Top coat with a bronze metallic paint – not a solid coat, just lightly brush over.

Step 2 – Creating the design

Do not use a black sharpie when creating the design as it will bleed into the gold paint. I used a silver metallic marker. I would have used a gold one but did not have one on hand. Here is a link to the marker.

Measure from the top of the mirror to the bottom and find the middle point. Mark it with a felt pen.

Measure from the left side to the right side and find the middle point. Mark it with a felt pen.

This should create a “t” in the middle of the mirror.

Oval mirror frame with Gleams gold paint bottle
Measuring the midpoint on the mirror
Step 3 – Creating the inner circle

Depending on the size of your mirror decide on a circle size. An appropriate circle size for mine was a 13 cm diameter.

Lay your ruler with your mid point number (in my case 6.5 cm) on the “t” that you created for your mid point on the mirror.

Mark out on the mirror the spot for 0 cm and 13 cm. Move the ruler by basically twisting it on the “t” and make enough marks that you can create a circle.

You could also find a round bowl or can and simply trace the circle.

Drawing a circle on a mirror.
Step 4 – Create the 4 pointed star

First, remember to draw a level horizontal line through the middle of the circle.

The draw a straight line from the top middle location down 3 inches. Then draw a straight horizontal line in from the right 2 inches. Repeat for the left. Then draw a straight vertical line from the bottom upwards 3 inches.

I used a Staedtler-Mars flex curve (link here) to create the curves by laying the curve from the top line, swooping it down so that it touches the circle and then out to the right middle point. Use a felt pen and mark the curve. Repeat for the 3 other sides.

Creating the 4 pointed star
Step 5 – Paint the design

Using the same Gleams gold metallic paint, paint over the lines. This will take several coats. When finished, do one final light coat in the bronze metallic paint to give it an aged appearance.

Once dry, reattach the mirror to the frame.

Oval mirror painted gold with with an art deco design - my version of an art deco mirror

Now let’s create an Orient Express inspired bar!

A high gloss wood bar or an art deco piece would have been perfect as a base for the bar, but this little beggar cannot afford that lol! Below are replica Orient Express bars – the one on the left is from the movie “Murder on the Orient Express”.

I had to use what we have so the base for my bar is not the best but because it was painted black, I felt it brought in the moody feel of the Orient Express bar.

Large credenza painted black and styled like a bar with liquor bottles, black mirror, art deco mirror, ice buckets, decanters, etc.

What you will need to create an Orient Express inspired bar

  • A bar, credenza, buffet or bar cart
  • Various liquor bottles
  • Ice bucket
  • Large mirror
  • Art deco mirror
  • Drink shaker
  • Silver tray
  • Vase with flower
  • Tray and various decanters
  • A variety of fancy glasses
  • Vintage champagne bottles if you have them
  • A small table lamp
Start by layering the biggest items first

I placed my biggest mirror first because I wanted to create the back of the bar look which is often mirrored or glossy wood. Then I placed the art deco mirror in the middle.

I created a little shelf area on the left for liquor bottles using a wood riser I painted silver.

Next add all the special details

Placing a small lamp on the right, created a warm glow which cascaded down onto a tray filled with pretty decanters.

Mirrored tray holding fancy decanters with a small table lamp and art deco mirror in background

In the center flanking the art deco mirror, I placed an ice bucket and a bottle of cognac on the left and a shaker with a vase holding a lily and moss as I saw on the set of the movie (see picture above).

White lily in silver metal vase with drink shaker in front of art deco mirror

To provide more interest, I placed a glass shelving unit on the right and styled vintage champagne bottles on the top, pretty glasses on shelf down, a chrome fancy drink set, a vintage ice bucket surrounded in silver glasses, and a selection of bitters from Dillons.

Vintage champagne bottles with fancy glasses

And there you have it, my art deco mirror and bar inspired by the Orient Express!

Art deco mirror on bar inspired by the Orient Express

Up next on the blog…

What is a bar without a fancy drink or two? On Saturday, I will share with you some delicious drinks from the 1930’s. They are pretty and easy!

Time to check out the rest of the Virtual Book Club members

Virtual book club bloggers

Make sure to check out all the fantastic home decor that Lynn, Erin and Cindy were inspired to create by clicking the titles of their projects under the photos.

Lynn, Living Large in a Small House

Cindy, Reinvented Delaware

Erin, Erin Evolving

Orient Express table for two
Antique gold painting technique on vintage table lamp
Dessert bar inspired by the Orient Express

Did you see the elegant wreath I created?

Green velvet winter door wreath with gold satin ribbon

Click here to read the post.

Looking for a pretty Valentine’s project?

Vintage window decorated for Valentines

This one is always a crowd pleaser – click here for the post.

Here is some decor that is Orient Express inspired!

Simply click on the photo for a link to the product.

As always thank you so much for reading my blog and supporting my dreams!

What do you think?

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12 Comments
  • Lynn
    January 26, 2023

    Your bar car recreating is stunning! Your mirror will be fun to use for years to come.

    I especially loved all the detail about the actual Orient Express. You really did your homework. The facts about the placement of the luggage tags are hysterical.

    I don’t know about you but I can’t wait for next month!

    • Crystal
      January 26, 2023

      Thanks so much Lynn! The luggage label info really got me too! I would always be checking the labels to see what people thought of me hahaha!!! I am also looking forward to next month – it is going to be so much fun!

  • Cindy
    January 26, 2023

    The mirror is amazing Crystal! That was a great idea to paint the design of the window onto the mirror! And I love that you added the larger mirror to the back just like it was done on the Orient Express! I’m excited for next month!

    • Crystal
      January 27, 2023

      Thanks so much Cindy! I love layering mirrors but it sure is hard to take photos of them hahahaha!!! I am looking forward to next month too!

  • Leslie Watkins
    January 26, 2023

    A dancer in Japan? Oh, how amazing! I love all of the gorgeous photos of that train. That would be a bucket list item to ride. Beautiful job of that mirror!

    • Crystal
      January 27, 2023

      Thanks Leslie! Yes many moons ago I was a professional dancer – the good ole days. It is on my bucket list to ride one of these trains too! Thank you!

  • Diane Sudhoff
    January 28, 2023

    Love this post with all the vintage vs. current pictures. And the positioning of the luggage labels was fascinating! But your mirror is so smart. Thanks for sharing how you pulled that off!

    • Crystal
      January 29, 2023

      Thank you so very much Diane! I really had to laugh about the luggage labels! I wonder if the travellers ever knew?

  • Wendy McMonigle
    January 28, 2023

    WOW, Crystal! This is so impressive. You put a lot of thought and effort into this amazing post. I love the mirror and all of the great information you shared. I had no idea that where you placed the labels on your bag made a difference. Thanks for sharing such great information on this book.

    • Crystal
      January 29, 2023

      Thanks so much Wendy! It was so fun to dig back in time and learn how things used to be done in the good ole days! The label thing was so funny!

  • Donna
    January 31, 2023

    Hi Crystal! I think you and your friends are so creative! This virtual book club is such a fun idea! I have never read this book, but I found your post to be so interesting, I think I would enjoy it! You did a fabulous job recreating the bar cart! Looking forward to seeing more!

    • Crystal
      February 23, 2023

      Thank you so very much Donna! This book club is a lot of fun but most of all the ladies are the best.