One Theme, Five Ways: Customizing Adelle

Popular free theme Adelle has a lot more to offer than its signature pink dots, as these five bloggers show us.

adelle-showcaseAdelle is a popular free theme — our 47th most popular, to be exact. You’ve probably seen its familiar pink dots, bold menu bar, and pops of magenta as you catch up with your favorite blogs.

Don’t be fooled by Adelle‘s distinctive look, though: there’s a lot more to this theme than polka dots, as these five bloggers ably demonstrate.

MomJeanz

Blogger Elaine chose Adelle for the cleverly-named MomJeanz, then gave it a complete makeover using only free options available to any blogger:

momjeanz

She uploaded a custom header image and swapped out Adelle‘s dots for her own textured background. Everything else stays the same — layout, fonts, colors — but the theme becomes uniquely hers.

(If a custom header image seems beyond your technical or design chops, we’ve got a tutorial that will help you create one in less than fifteen minutes, no special software required. We’ve also got leads on great sites for background-friendly textures and patterns.)

Alligator Toe

Fashion blogger Kristi uses those same free options to tailor Alligator Toe, but ends up with a different feel; it’s simple yet colorful, crisp yet handmade:

alligator toe

She also opts for a custom header, but keeps thing clean with a design that’s text only, then trades in Adelle‘s bubbly pink circles for her own minimalist take on the polka dot. The effect is decidedly modern, and decidedly her.

Girl Lost in the City

Like Adelle‘s nifty features and integrated social sharing icons, but want something even more minimalist? Journalist Emma Gannon blogs at Girl Lost in the City, where she adds the Custom Design upgrade to Adelle — then uses it to strip the theme down:

girl lost

Emma’s take on Adelle loses more than the pink dots; thanks to some custom CSS, even the black menu bar and circles used to highlight the post date get the axe. What’s left is a clean, easy-to-navigate site with a sidebar jam-packed with useful information like links to her popular posts and other profiles and publications where readers can find her.

(Not comfortable with CSS? We’ve got you covered there, too.)

Bangers & Mash

Custom Design isn’t just for paring Adelle back. English mom and blogger Vanesther uses it to change up the colors and fonts on Bangers & Mash to give her cooking blog a homey feel:

bangers and mash

The pink dots are back, but they soften against a warm taupe background, while Adelle‘s default hot pink accents are replaced with a sophisticated teal. The menu bar and social sharing icons take on a deeper version of her background color. A custom header pulls the whole look together.

The Utter Blog

If you’re feeling ready to take your Custom Design skills to the next level, The Utter Blog is an excellent example of how much is possible — you’ve got to look hard to see Adelle‘s bones in this personality-filled wedding planning site:

utter blog

Custom Colors, Fonts, and CSS come together for a bespoke site. The social sharing icons and sidebar are there, as is the black circle highlighting the post date, but everything else is tailored. The dots fade away, the menu bar is replaced with a series of buttons designed to mesh with the wood-paneled background, and a secondary menu pops up along the top edge of the site. The site bursts with charm — perfect for a wedding blog.

You can learn more about and activate Adelle in the Theme Showcase. Once you do, explore all your customizing options in the Customizer


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Michelle W.

48 Comments

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  1. Charlie

    Glad you added blogs that only used free options to give us inspiration. Not all of us can afford add-ons, though we still love to blog! :)

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Annie of LittleTwinStars

    I am always amazed at how people transform a theme into something so beautiful; what’s more, the final product is almost a complete departure from the original look. I like that there are actually five ways(!) shown in this article on customizing Adelle.Thanks Michelle for sharing this with us! I’ll put a link to this in my help-for-newbies (collection) blog!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sandra Lewrey

    I love Adelle – it’s uncluttered, crisp, clean and easily customisable. None of that is a bad thing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. lmiller402003

    FIRST, I NEED A TUTORIAL ON TAGS OR TAGGING A BLOG.

    Like

  5. Aliyaaaa

    These are great! Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. ProjectRefinedLife.wordpress.com

    Thank you! I use the Adelle Theme. I love the simplicty of the theme but I have been trying to figure out how to make it “mine”. I love how MomJeanz and Alligator Toe utilized the free options to their fullest. I’m gonna give it go.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. KendiBanks

    I’m new to WordPress, and am using the free version. I’m still learning my way around. How can I add categories to the menu strip. (the black bar). And, I thought we could only change the font with the paid version?

    Like

  8. triciatallen

    Wow, I’ve been using Adelle since March when I started my personal blog but I didn’t know there were so many options in terms of customisation. For instance, I notice that Alligator Toe includes several social media options on the top right hand corner of the home page. I’ve tried to add my Google+ but didn’t see that option. Is that only available with the upgraded version?

    I love the minimalist approach in Girl Lost in the City and Utter Blog’s design. I think more bloggers will be using this theme after seeing your post. Thanks for showing us the immense possibilities in choosing the Adelle theme.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. cleopatrakamel

    I really enjoyed the tips, it was very handful. Thank you :)

    Liked by 1 person

  10. randomlyabstract

    These customizations to Adelle seem pretty cool! I think I will try this out soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. thesciencegeek

    I think that Momjeanz blog looks great. It is amazing how much you can do with the free options available to any blogger.

    The Science Geek

    Liked by 1 person

  12. jencushman

    Thank you so much for this post today, My blog has needed a refresh in what seems like forever. After seeing your post on this new theme, it was just what I needed to kick me in the pants to completely give my blog a makeover!

    Like

  13. alligatortoe

    Hi and wow! I just wanted to say thank you so much for including my blog as one of your examples, I am honored to be part of such a gorgeous group of blogs!! There are so many ways to customize the Adelle theme (which is one of the many reasons I love it), and so many great blogs out there utilizing the theme. Thanks again! :)

    PS. Just wanted to add that I did use a text widget to add my own custom social media links to the top of my sidebar, but I noticed other blogs using the Adelle theme with similar social media links (all in black) so I figured there must be another option within the WordPress theme. :)

    Like

  14. lennae87

    Wow that’s fantastic! I use Adelle on my blog and have been thinking about changing it up a bit. Thanks for sharing, it’s great inspiration!

    Like

  15. Belindq

    Thanks for sharing the free options of customising Adelle theme. I’m current using it and loving it max!

    Like

  16. maturelikeafinewine

    Hi

    I have received your e-mails for a while, very busy so not much time to read them, they seem good and informative, however I have never quite got it right where blogging is concerned.  Obviously I have seen and tried a few sites but always end up leaving them or not using them as there is little in the way of support. Can you do me a favour? Could you present an ‘idiots guide’ to blogging? 

    I am not the only one, during the last year I have spoken to numerous people who feel their words are never read by anybody but themselves!

    In common with many others I enjoy writing and have had the odd piece published and performed, just need your guidance as to how to secure a readership.

    Thanks Caroline

    Like

  17. laura loves beauty blog

    This is a really helpful post and as with everyone else I had no idea it was all so customisable. I have an issue with that in the black menu header box I have a search bar which I can’t get rid of! Can anyone help?

    Like

    • Michelle W.

      You’ve got a self-hosted blog, so I’m not able to peek behind the scenes to help out; it could be a widget/plugin that needs to be configured differently. The folks in the support forum at WordPress.com should be able to give you more guidance: http://wordpress.org/support/

      Like

  18. moosha23

    It’s good to know that creativity pays off! :P
    I like how, even with the free tools available to us, we can really change the look of a theme and tailor it to our needs. Thanks for this post!

    Like

  19. bookishsoul

    Adelle always looked cute to me, I think I’ll have to take a look at it again.

    Like

  20. pensandart

    This is very helpful, thanks!

    Like

  21. Sunny

    I am using this theme, can anyone help me i wanted to add social plugins

    Like

    • Michelle W.

      You’re not able to upload your own plugins to a WordPress.com blog, but Adelle does have the ability to display social links built right in — the blogs in this post all use that. To find them, head to the Customizer or Appearance > Theme Options.

      Like

  22. stargzrblog

    In April, I decided that I needed a fresh new “blog-do”. I spent a week+ exploring all the WordPress options, and my choice came down to Adelle or one of the “Twenty-somethings” themes. Adelle won out because of the following features: I just loved the bold circular date icon that clearly separated the different posts, that distinctive ribbon-shaped menu “banner” along the top that allows for multi-layered menu headers, the category(s) under which each post is filed is prominently displayed right under the post titles, and the associated tags for each post are clearly shown right under the post. I appreciate this level of clean organization and how this intuitive format invites further exploration into my blog. The only thing in my “want” list is the ability to swap the “tag cloud” (which is starting to look ugly and humongous because of my liberal use of tags) for a cleaner tag organization/look-up format (maybe drop-down list, or something along those lines). In any case, thanks, WordPress, for providing the easily-customizable and crisp-looking Adelle theme to us!

    Like

    • Michelle W.

      Your wish list item is noted :)

      Two thoughts on that – first, you could use a text widget instead, and use it to list/link to your most popular tags (or a rotating selection of tags). Second, you could sort by category instead, and use the category widget – it has a drop-down option.

      Like

  23. MermaidJael

    Hi. Im new here and using the free version. How can I change the avatar to my picture? Every time I comment or post, the avatar beside my name don’t comes up. But when I go to my site I have my picture. Can someone help me please…

    Like

    • Michelle W.

      The image that appears next to your comments is your Gravatar — to change it, head to gravatar.com (you’ll log in with you WordPress.com login).

      Like

  24. Yelly

    Thanks for the tips! I do love Adele and have used the theme for a few months. I am thinking of going back to it now with all these tips and ideas! Thanks! :)

    Like

  25. A Writer Inspired

    I love blog posts like this one: ‘one theme five ways.’ It’s original and inspiring all at the same time. Just because it’s free doesn’t mean it can’t be different.

    Like

  26. katielouiseclark

    I’m so glad you included the free options as well! I use Adelle :’) and it’s great for some inspiration :)

    Like

  27. A Writer Inspired

    THANKS TO CHERI FOR ADDING THIS:

    “Also, here’s a separate support doc on social media icons:

    http://en.support.wordpress.com/add-social-media-buttons-to-your-sidebar-or-footer/

    Had the hardest time trying to do this on my own, you fixed my blog with this link.

    Like

  28. ProjectRefinedLife.wordpress.com

    I did it!!!! I used Picmonkey to create a banner and I found a free background. Finally, no more pink polka dots.

    Thank you!

    Annette – ProjectRefinedLife.wordpress.com

    Like

  29. jessmaio

    Hi, I was just wondering with the Adelle theme, how do you get rid of the pink dots at the top like Mom Jeanz has? Thankyou x

    Like

  30. Vanesther

    Thanks so much for featuring my Bangers & Mash food blog in this beautiful line-up. I barely played with the Adelle theme at all to be honest but I guess it shows just how far you can take it – from tinkering a little around the edges for someone like me to creating really bespoke websites like The Utter Blog.

    I’ve picked up so many ideas here and in the comments for ways to tinker a little bit more.

    I’m definitely going to look at my word cloud, which has gone crazy and might go for your suggestion above of a text widget linking to a rotating selection of tags.

    Are there any guidelines anywhere for how to do that or is it easy to work out?

    Like

  31. MicheleElys

    HI Michelle,
    You ideas are great and many bloggers have great pages!!
    Thanks for the updates! I am so afraid of “customizing” for the last time I attempted to change the format, and this was after I read the tutorial. I lost my 1st page, the widget went somewhere, part of my boarder I never could replace. I lost a week in writing time. Would love a broader page and better format, however I am a writer not an IT Geek (who setup wordpress for me in the beginning). Keeping the page simple for readers is less stressful. Thanks for the tip, MicheleElys (first name) Cheers

    Like

    • Michelle W.

      You can always preview different themes, and even play around with customizing them, without actually activating them — if you head to Appearance >> Themes in your dashboard, you’ll see that each theme has a “preview” button. Your readers will see your regular site while you play around with other options. If you decide you don’t like the changes, just close out without saving. No harm done!

      Like

  32. greenboat

    You might also like to check out my Diamonds in the Rough / free-range a cappella site at http://diamondsinrough.net — we think Adelle is *perfect* for our trio! Thanks so much for all the tips and tricks you provide to your users.

    Like

  33. Kyla Grey

    All these are so lovely.
    Please I’m very new to blogging. I don’t understand all the customising thingy.
    Please any resources to get a hang of the whole process.
    I don’t understand the free customising part since you must upgrade first before it can show.
    Or I’m I missing something.
    Thank you

    Like

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