Love the key features of the Twenty Fourteen theme but prefer a more minimalist look? Take a look at how three bloggers reimagined — and stripped down — this popular new theme.
Twenty Fourteen, Unplugged
The Twenty Fourteen theme is barely three months old, but it’s already one of the most popular themes on WordPress.com — 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.
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.
Feb 24th at 4:44 pm
You know, I had looked at the Twenty – themes when I was setting up my ScribingEnglish blog. But I was afraid it looked too busy for what I was trying to portray, which was that of a returning and focused student. But I like the single column. Thank you for giving examples for the different ways it can be used!
Feb 24th at 5:32 pm
I really appreciate these articles featuring inventive ways that bloggers make themes their own. Thanks for sharing these ideas. For now, I’m using Manifest, probably the simplest of all themes for my personal, ‘journal’ blog and I’ve gone back to using TwentyThirteen for my poetry blog (I trialled Syntax for a while but had some niggles with it). One theme I’ve seen featured quite a few times in ‘Recommended Blogs’ is Misty Look which has now been withdrawn (this seems a shame). One excellent feature of Twenty Fourteen is the option to put a menu on the left – there is something about this simple change in focus which really makes a blog look smart and interesting. Lots of food for thought (in many ways!) in this Hot off the Press post!
Feb 24th at 6:11 pm
I sampled this theme a few weeks ago, but want to use a custom header. It only showed the title of my blog in small print above the left column. I love this theme, but want to make my title more prominent. Is it possible to enlarge it?
Feb 24th at 6:18 pm
I LOVE this theme. It took me less than a few hours to format the perfect lifestyle blogazine which is somewhat different from the requirements of other types of lifestyle blogs. Twenty Fourteen gave me that perfect balance between minimalist and showstopper that I was looking for to introduce Live Well Be Fabulous to the world. The feedback I’ve been receiving from other Pressers tells me that I hit the target I was aiming for. Thanks for creating this theme! A+++
Feb 24th at 6:20 pm
This looks like a great theme. I’ve had mine for just over a year now, so thinking about changing it, might go for this one maybe. Great to learn more about it.
Feb 24th at 10:43 pm
Still trying to figure out how to add the welcome section to the right sidebar on this theme. Could you offer some insight??
Feb 25th at 3:08 am
Hi guys, how to expand the post width like the Callum Hackett site?
Feb 25th at 2:00 pm
I have been using this theme since it became available and I love it. I have seen some great customizations in my bloggy travels. I’ve noticed a few users have a great social media widget — it presents icons for all of the major social media networks. Some have a nice rollover feature. I cannot find a widget like this on the dashboard.
I am curious as to where to find this element so that I can add it to my own blog. Thanks!
Feb 25th at 7:15 pm
thank you so much for the information! i’m loitering in the retired Titan while I decide how to move forward, plus have a new site to build out. Do you think it’s important to have Custom Design for success with twenty fourteen? And you think it’s social media friendly? Are you familiar with Thesis? thanks!
Feb 25th at 8:45 pm
I really like the 2014 theme…BUT I don’t understand why the left column keeps shifting to the end and doesn’t stay on the left where I set it up… sometimes it’s there and then most of the time it is at the very bottom of the blog. can it be fixed to stay put? Sue
Feb 25th at 11:32 pm
I am experimenting with Twenty Fourteen for a City website.
On my desktop I can see all the Menu items across the top. When I look at the tablet view it shows all the Menu items.
However, when I go to the site on my iPad it does not display any of the menu items just the little 3-bar icon which is not an intuitive place to touch/click for most people. It certainly was not for me.
How can this be fixed?
Feb 26th at 9:21 am
I’m trying to SEO my Twenty Fourteen page. My current problem is with h1 headers. I have three of those (site-title, menu-toggle, entry-title), but I only should have one. Is there a way to fix this?
Mar 3rd at 11:57 pm
Twenty Fourteen Theme rocks out on WordPress.com… nice color, meuning options. Haven’t yet had a chance to rework it under the hood with the full WordPress.