Whatever curtain design you use, the curtain track is an important part of your scheme. You have to hang your curtains from something, and poles with rings, or tracks with runners are what you use.
This is not as limiting as you might think. There is a vast selection of poles available, both wood and metal, traditional and contemporary. Your curtain track can be hand drawn or corded, or electrically powered with automatic light sensors.
Plastic or similar tracks are fine for light weight curtains. Some plastic tracks are designed for heavier curtains, but my advice is if your curtains are quite heavy, then go for metal tracks. They last longer and tend not to have as many problems.
These can be used on their own for your curtains design if they are plain (such as white plastic), particularly if they blend in with the window frame.
Some tracks, especially metal ones, are stronger and work better when they have an integral cording action, but don't look very nice and need to be hidden by a valance or cornice box (pelmet).
Whenever your curtain treatment is substantial or you're using a top treatment such as a cornice box or valance, use a good quality curtain track. If it's corded, make sure it's strong enough to carry the weight of the curtains, and also strong enough to take the wear of repeated use of the cords.
If you use a simple track then make your curtains with a heading a couple of inches deep. (The hooks on the curtains are not at the top, but are set down a couple of inches, so the top of the curtain covers the track.)
Poles are normally used for their simple but attractive looks. They can be made from wood, metal or a painted finish to tone with your room. They come in all sizes, the most common being 1 3/8 inches (35mm) diameter.
If your windows are large, and especially if they are high (10 feet for example) then consider using a larger 2 inch pole. Most poles come complete with brackets and finials, although you can also buy more expensive ones where you select the finish, brackets and finials separately.
If you need to span more than 6 feet, you'll need a bracket in the center otherwise the pole may bend under the weight of the curtains.
Thin metal poles can also be used. These look particularly attractive in older properties, giving a sense of a bygone age. For a more contemporary look, a pole with a brushed steel finish and curtains with eyelets works well.
You can also use them without rings by the use of tabs sewn to the tops of the curtains. But be aware that although this looks good, the curtains won't run very well. This method works best if the curtains are pulled permanently together at the top and the curtains tied back.
Fix it firmly!
Your pole will have two brackets supporting it, or three if the pole is long. These brackets will have to support the weight of both the pole and curtains.
So do make sure the brackets are firmly fixed to the wall.
If you have any doubts about your DIY ability, then get a professional to fit your pole. You don't want the whole lot coming down in the middle of a dinner party! (Yes, it has happened.)