Twenty Fourteen, Unplugged


The Twenty Fourteen theme is barely three months old, but it’s already one of the most popular themes on — understandable, since its flexible, magazine-style layout gives you tons of leeway for presenting and highlighting different content.

What if you like what’s under Twenty Fourteen’s hood but want a sleeker look for your blog? No problem! As these three blogs prove, Twenty Fourteen is just as easy to pare down as it is to punch up.

Twenty Fourteen’s default layout takes full advantage of its adept way with featured images and content, and shows off multiple custom menu and widget areas:


But it can just as easily take on a clean, single-column look, as Callum Hackett chose:


Callum showcases his longer-form writing with a stark layout that makes his words the focus. He’s replaced the solid-color sidebar with his own image; the subtle colors give the blog visual interest without distracting from the posts. Widgets and menus are limited to a few key pieces to help readers find their way to other important content, like particular blog categories or Callum’s presence on Twitter.

Going minimal doesn’t have to mean skipping all of Twenty Fourteen’s great image display options. Blogger Torunn uses Twenty Fourteen for her sleek, paleo-focused food blog, paleomat (yes, it’s in Norwegian):


Her version of Twenty Fourteen adds a simple custom header (tagline translation: “only real food”) that’s a perfect complement for her mouthwatering photos. She takes advantage of both menu areas to make it easy for visitors to learn more about the blog or sort her archive of recipes, but sticks with one sans-serif font for her title, navigation, and content.

In the sidebar, she passes on colors and images in favor of basic white. Together, it creates a cohesive, serene feeling — her blog’s clean look echoes her focus on clean eating.

Fellow foodie Gabriella, who’s based in the UK, also went with Twenty Fourteen for her site Thyme & Honey. She adds a few more elements, but maintains a sleek look by keeping them monochromatic:


A pale gray sidebar and menu frame her posts and provide clear navigation. Her stripped-down, geometric header reinforces the minimalist look, while grayscale social networking icons add to the sidebar without taking away from the content.

These sites use the Custom Design upgrade to achieve their looks, but there are takeaways that anyone can apply, no upgrade needed:

  • Keep widgets to a minimum, and streamline the information in the ones you do use.
  • A simple white background always looks clean.
  • Try a static home page or single-column layout rather than having multiple featured posts to maintain a sleek look.

If Twenty Fourteen’s features appeal to you, take a look at its description in the Theme Showcase or click around the demo site. Its bones may be the right foundation for your dream blog, even if you prefer simple to snazzy.

Filed under: Customization, Themes

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