Balloon shades are a type of Austrian festoon blind where the material is gathered up into a series of puffy balloon shapes—which is where the “balloon” name derives from. It is a style of curtain that is designed to be more decorative than functional and whereas other curtains can be opened and closed to serve the purpose of controlling light and privacy, a balloon shade loses its shape once it is lowered. For this reason balloon curtains are usually fitted at a window as an attractive decoration, rather than to serve a useful purpose.
Balloon shades gain their distinctive shape from the design of the curtain. Small rings are sewn on to the fabric at the rear of the shade and cord is threaded through. When pulled, this cord gathers the fabric into the puffy balloon shapes the curtain is known for. Occasionally, the folds of fabric are filled with extra padding to enhance the puffy appearance. For maximum effect, the amount of fabric required for a balloon curtain needs to be at least twice the width of the window. For even better results, you can use as much as three times as much fabric to create a really puffy balloon curtain.
Balloon window shades became very popular in the1980’s when home furnishings were ostentatious and the more decorative a window shade was the better. These days, many people prefer a simpler style of blind or shade, but balloon curtains can still have their place in the modern home.
If you want to go for the whole 80’s retro look, balloon curtains are definitely the best way forward. You can choose a floral fabric and combine it with some patterned carpets for a chintzy theme. Add some French reproduction furniture and fluffy cushions and the look will be complete.
Simple voile panels constructed into a balloon style shade can look very effective in a smaller window. If plenty of fabric is used, the balloon festoon shape is more pronounced and the shade can add a nice contrast to an otherwise minimalist decorative scheme. Pretty voile fabrics allow muted light to shine though, which is perfect for a window where a blind is only required to look decorative. Voile panels are an excellent balloon shades window enhancement for windows with patterned glass.
When used in bedrooms, a puffy balloon curtain is ideal as an accompaniment to a pair of curtains. During the day the curtains can be drawn to reveal the decorative balloon window shade and at night the curtains can be pulled shut again to allow sleep. The same applies to other rooms in the home, for example a living room or dining room. Balloon curtains can even be fitted in kitchen windows for decorative effect.
Balloon style shades can also be an attractive window dressing for hallways and landings. Light control is not really necessary for these windows, but most people still like to have some kind of decorative blind fitted to enhance the room. A fabric balloon curtain will look lovely when used in a room decorated in more traditional style.