Early Theme Adopters: Kelly

In our Early Theme Adopters series, we focus on bloggers creating great sites with recent additions to the Theme Showcase. Today, let’s visit a few sites using Kelly, a personal blogging theme with numerous customization options.

Kelly, which was designed by Automattic’s own Kelly Hoffman, is an inviting, fun theme for bloggers of all stripes. Its clean, one-column layout makes it perfect for text-heavy posts, but can be just as ideal for a tumblelog-like stream of images.

With bold featured images, the ability to customize the header and the background, and three widget areas in the site’s footer, you can make it your own with just a few quick tweaks. Here are some examples of the theme’s versatility.

Curated Style

curated style

Curated Style, a Toronto-centered fashion blog, makes great use of Kelly‘s out-of-the-box look. The theme’s cursive font in the header injects a stylish playfulness, while the generous white space in the posts makes the images of Toronto’s fashion scene stand out.

The blogger behind Curated Style effortlessly added a few personal touches, like a patterned custom header image, a splash of bright pink in the custom background, and an easy-to-navigate custom menu.

The Lens Less Traveled

lens less traveled
Created by a photoblogger based in the Southeast (of the US), The Lens Less Traveled shows how radically different Kelly can look with just a few small changes.

The site uses a more neutral palette than the theme’s trademark bright greens and pinks, as well as a serif custom font instead of the default cursive. The focus is squarely on the gorgeous photography, like the picture above, taken in a state park in Georgia. The splashy featured image in each post creates a particularly striking effect, drawing viewers in and enticing them to explore more.

Lorenzo Setale

lorenzo setale

Taking Kelly in a very different direction than its default design, Italian software developer and entrepreneur Lorenzo Setale recognized the theme’s inherent strengths, and used them to create a tailor-made look for his site.

The dark background and sans serif font join forces to become a modern, clean canvas for Lorenzo’s thoughts, while the theme’s original focus on readability and balance stay as effective as ever.

Have you customized Kelly as well? Is there another theme you’d like to see featured in this series? We’d love to hear your input!


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  1. DawnMarie

    It would be great to see The Simfo Theme featured, as well as other Premium themes. I am interested in viewing how others have customized their Blog and/or website using The Simfo Theme, as I am currently using it for my site at http://www.stylescheme.com. Additionally, if possible, a CSS tutorial would also be very helpful and much appreciated. Thank you so much for asking and have a wonderful week!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ben Huberman

      Thanks for the suggestion, DawnMarie. We’ll definitely highlight some premium themes as well in future posts.

      As for CSS, beyond our support pages on the topic, we also ran a three-part tutorial last year; you can find the relevant posts here, here, and here. I hope you find them useful!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. MeAndDating

    Very versatile and yet easy on the eye. Positive addition to the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. JA Shanks

    Thanks for highlighting my blog. I have to admit the extra stats/attention confused me a little at first. Really appreciate the mention.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. soccerjlj

    Any idea how to reduce the font size for the Kelly Theme without upgrading to the $99 premium account?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ben Huberman

      You don’t need WordPress.com Premium to change font sizes — you can accomplish that with the Custom Design upgrade, which includes Custom Colors, Custom Fonts, and Custom CSS. You can find more information about that upgrade here.


  5. rosegainsan

    Please help me. I can’t upload picture. What shall i do.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Nina May

    It’s nice to see less photo-oriented themes being promoted! Pictures just aren’t my thing, so oftentimes I’ll opt-out on adding a picture.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. jbelleisle

    Hi Ben, thanks so much for the kind words about my blog, Curated Style! I appreciate the kinds words and promotion.The Kelly theme is lovely although I noticed the formatting changes depending on the screen/browser (ie. pictures and texts won’t always look centered). Not sure if I’m going to stay with Kelly, but it is lovely and I like the simplicity.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ben Huberman

      My pleasure! I suspect that the layout differences you’re seeing are a result of the theme’s responsiveness — it tries to optimize the viewing experience depending on the screen size you’re looking at.

      In any case, I’m glad to hear you’ve been enjoying Kelly — and curious to see what you’d pick if/when you decide to switch themes.


  8. Art

    Thanks for the insight, Ben. Absolutely stunning what you can do with wordpress nowadays. It’s come a long way from where it was when I first started using the original WordPress templates 4 years ago. I never thought it would take off as big as it has. I remember at the time debating whether to go with a WordPress-based website or another blog site foundation (can’t remember who), but went with and learned everything WordPress. Now it’s just unbelievable what you can do with WordPress, especially via plugins. Practically anything, from shopping carts to SEO to original custom forms can be done with plugins whereas 4 years ago, while everything worked fine, WordPress was much more limited. One thing you should consider featuring the Genesis platform. I’m currently using this for my website paintingscollection.com – and the results are as good as it gets, I’m my humble opinion.

    – Art


    • Ben Huberman

      Thanks for the great feedback, Art! It’s great to hear you’ve been using WordPress for so long, and enjoying the ride so far.


  9. buntymcc

    I wish that when you highlight themes that you would state, up front, whether they are free or not. Thanks.


    • Ben Huberman

      Sorry for any confusion — Kelly is a free theme, as are most of the themes we’ve highlighted in this series. We explicitly mention when a theme’s a premium one, though it’s a good idea, going forward, to say so for free themes as well.


  10. Inspirations By Katheryn

    I upgraded to premium and don’t see a bit of difference. Well, maybe the background color around the edges is new, but that’s all I see.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ben Huberman

      With the Custom Design upgrade, you have many additional ways to tweak the theme’s appearance, from the background color you mention, to different fonts, and more (especially if you’re interested in making changes with CSS, which is part of the upgrade).


  11. katlnhat

    Thank you. I’m using a free theme and want to keep it free (for now). I’ve switched it so many times, I’m dizzy. 🙂 This one seems to have some nice features, though I do also like the Syntax theme, Twenty-ten and have tried, Oxygen.

    Just call me confusion. The more I try, the more, “I” confuse “me”. Appreciate all your help!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. rhodainmanila

    I actually have Kelly as my theme as well: quite literally out of the box. I haven’t even customized the header yet. It’s a good-lookingt theme, especially on mobile.


  13. buffalogrl25

    I really stressed trying to pick a theme when I decided to start a blog. I found this and fell in love. I didn’t even change the colors. It was like you lovely folks at WordPress read my mind and created it just for me! 😉 Thanks. 🙂


  14. Annie of the Twinkling Stars

    I LOVE Kelly! I used it for my Dreamwater blog (my writing booster blog).


  15. mzantsifashionSwag

    it would be nice if even the free themes were as attractive as those who needed to be purchased.


  16. John Hayden

    The Lens Less Travelled is an inspiring blog! Great use of the theme.


  17. emerancega

    I use Kelly for my Website emerancega.com and I love how good it works on both Windows and Android.


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