Burlap has been used in home decor since the beginning of time. Usually, it's pretty blah and benign. You can, however, dress it up by combining it's rough weave with unexpected refined elements to make it a stand out, low budget fabric.
Burlap needs contrast to compliment it's rudimentary nature. Just take a look at some ways you can marry it with some fancier materials to bring out the best in it. By the way, a good burlap fabric will only run you about $4.00 to $6.00 a yard.
Running your burlap through the washer will soften it up considerably. Try tying it inside a large pillowcase to avoid the mess.