Welcome to my list of free premium WordPress themes from reputable designers. Let me take a minute or so to explain why I wanted to compile it. Articles such as Leland Flegel’s piece for ThemeLab in late 2009 entitled “Stop Downloading WordPress Themes from Shady Sites” and Siobhan McKeown’s article for WPMU published in early 2010 entitled “Why you should never search for free WordPress themes in Google or anywhere else”, sent shock waves through the WordPress community. People (re)awoke to the fact that despite all the good will to make the platform a standard bearer in open source software, a significant proportion of the developer base was exploiting free themes and plugins by embedding malicious scripts and code snippets to game SERP rankings (in amongst other things).
The articles prompted a slew of discussions on where to find trustworthy free WordPress themes outside the WordPress theme directory. It even prompted a series of theme black lists to be composed. Thus the purpose of this post is to highlight some high quality and trustworthy premium-like WordPress themes that bring some excitement back to the idea of a free WordPress theme. These are all recent themes that work on the latest version of WordPress. So enjoy and if you know of other good and recent premium-like free themes please list them in the comments below.
Let me know if you’re using one of these themes for your site and tell me a little bit about your experience of using it.
A simple and professional portfolio theme with colourful features.
Tint is a good option for a portfolio type website. It benefits from the Themes Kingdom admin panel which allows you to transform elements of layout, colour and typography with ease.
It also includes a number of custom templates including a portfolio template, a contact form and a blog section. Documentation is provided as are the original theme Photoshop files. This is a good all-rounder that can be easily adapted to suit individual needs.
A minimal and flexible theme with sophisticated tones.
I have a soft spot for this theme since it’s the one currently in use on wpliving. It is a well crafted multi-purpose theme that comes with multiple portfolio layouts, a changeable front page, a range of short codes and a simple options panel.
Documentation is provided and there is a support forum for the theme. This is without doubt one of the top free themes available.
A bold and functional eCommerce theme with a ton of options.
Wootique is a highly customisable eCommerce theme that makes use of the free WooThemes eCommerce plugin to manage sales and accounts. You can manipulate most elements of this theme via the admin panel.
It’s a solid base theme for an online shop. I particularly like the modular design and the ability to shift elements around using custom widgets.
A simple and traditional blog theme with leather trim.
The Leather theme is a nice nod to traditional WordPress blogging themes. It is simple and elegant with clean lines and smart leather trim.
All the key functionality of a blog is there, including widgets, threaded comments and WordPress menu integration. It also comes with a simple options panel. Leather puts content first and doesn’t need any bells and whistles!
A clean and simple portfolio and blog theme.
I recently reviewed the Briefcase WordPress theme and what I liked most about it was it’s excellent tumblr-type blog. This is a small portfolio theme with an added blog. It’s best suited to individuals or small companies.
There is also a pro (premium version) of the Briefcase theme with added functionality and support. But if you’re looking for a simple and clean portfolio and blog theme then you could do much worse than Briefcase.
A clean and elegant corporate and business WordPress theme from Argentina.
Laigus is a simple theme that comes packed with features, including two different portfolio layouts, a blog section, a front page slider, sitemap and contact pages and short codes.
While the theme’s designer may be based in Argentina, the theme itself is in English. It would work well as a blog and portfolio site for a small company.
7. Eco Micro
A cute and easy microblogging theme
Eco Micro is a Twitter-like theme that allows you to see post content and comments on the front page. It would work well as an in-house communication blog for a small company for example.
Design wise, it is clean and minimal and comes with the bare necessities. I’ve included it here for its innovative approach to conversation. I love the front page functionality. Another similar free theme is the P2 theme by Automattic.
A clean and colour-contrasted eCommerce theme
Zenshop is a minimal and clean eCommerce theme that works with the Cart66 ecommerce plugin. A free version of the plugin exists. Zenshop its design feel from
It supports the latest WordPress features such as custom post types, taxonomies, metaboxes, menus and page templates. It comes with an options page and user documentation.
9. Urban City
A dark and brooding church oriented theme.
Urban City was designed for used by Churches and thus comes equipped with a sermon widget and post type. The theme can also be used for non-religious purposes given that it also comes with key WordPress blog functionality.
The front page has a well-integrated image slider and an elegant social media bar at the bottom. The overall design is simple and eye catching.
A beautiful black and white portfolio and blog theme.
The Ultima theme is more than visually stunning, it is feature rich and flexible too. The admin panel allows you to switch colours and background images and the home page elements can be rearranged and modified too.
The theme supports drop down navigation menus and sidebar widgets. It comes with 5 different types of template, each with its own widget area. It also has over 50 shortcodes. It would work well for a personal or company website.
A sleek and responsive portfolio and blog theme.
The defining feature of the Panoramica theme is it’s front page full-width slider. This really adds a visual punch to what is otherwise a simple theme. The theme’s admin panel allows you to manipulate the background and logo. It comes with several templates including a contact page, sitemap, portfolio and blog.
A good deal of care has gone into the presentation of graphics with this theme. If you like graphic heavy sites then this will work for you. It also comes with support.
A simple monochrome portfolio theme.
The Illustrious home page is sparse but fully serviceable and comes with a drop-down navigation bar, an image slider, portfolio and blog sections and a widgetised footer.
The theme also sports a number of handy short codes; sitemap, contact and full width page templates and a stand alone blog. All in all it’s a simple take on one of the most widespread theme layouts in use right now.
A minimal and responsive blog theme.
Align is perfect for text driven websites. If you’re a writer of any kind then you’ll want to take a look at this theme. It’s paired down to the bare minimum, just text, lines and colour and it excels at the presentation of content.
It is a fully responsive theme and supports all core WordPress functionality including widgets, menus and threaded comments. This is simplicity at its best.
Theme by 90Four
Go to the demo and download page →
A minimal and responsive gallery or portfolio theme.
Bunker is a beautiful showcase theme suitable for displaying art and design work. The front page functions as a portfolio grid and each entry contains an image, timestamp and permalink that clicks through to the single post view.
The single post content is well laid out with clearly defined content sections. It comes with an extended widgetised footer and is fully responsive. This is a simple, clean and gorgeous theme.
A minimal and responsive gallery or portfolio theme.
Grid is very close to Bunker in design. Both work on a fluid grid. This theme differs in the organisation and navigation of content, sporting a slick top layer navigation bar that brings the viewer right into the content.
It also has some nice little added features such as infinite scroll, rollover image captions and multiple menus. It has been optimised for all modern Web browsers, it is fully responsive and it rocks the house!
…and one more for fun!
A fully featured responsive CMS theme.
Jezz is an impressive addition to this list. It literally is brimming with features! It includes a custom admin panel, 5 color schemes, 6 custom page templates, multiple portfolio pages, it is search engine optimized, has 2 navigation menus and more.
This is a multipurpose theme that would suit a large company or community type site. It does a good job of managing content in modular form. I particularly like the blog layout.