I made burlap curtains for my kitchen window years ago and love them. The original scent was pretty yucky for the first few weeks, but went away. They do get dusty and since they can't be washed, I shake them out and vacuum them every few months or so.
The backsides have faded from the natural fiber color to a strange red/orange color, but the side I see is still good. Also, they don't have a "swooping" look when tied back, but look great bunched in the middle with wide ribbon.