Way back in 2009 we posted a collection of 30 Beautifully Designed Tumblr Themes. Back then the Tumblr library of themes was much smaller than it is today and in light of the huge growth in the platform as a whole we decided to bring you fifty more themes perfect for anyone with a designer’s eye.
This time we’ve switched things up by not only featuring a ton of great free themes, but an additional selection of premium themes for anyone who needs to go that extra mile. Let’s take a look!
A couple of times each month, we re-publish one of our popular posts from the archives. This article was originally published in February, 2011, but is still just as useful today!
Tumblr has always stood out to me as one of the only blogging platforms around with truly stunning free themes. If you’re a designer, the first time you see Tumblr will likely be the last time you look at Blogger!
The collection below is a good representation of the different types of theme design you’ll find across the Tumblr library. I tried to find each little niche and pick out the best looking theme within. However, a few of the themes below are completely out on their own and definitely aren’t weighed down by pre-established norms.
A nice wide content area with a subtle texture background. I really like the layered header, it’s simple but quite attractive.
This one is super classy. There’s lots of contrast to draw the eye in and the generous use of whitespace works well with the condensed uppercase typography. If you’re looking for a clean and minimal yet masculine theme, look no further.
Just like Grotesk, Mellow Yellow uses a condensed uppercase font, but that’s where the similarities end. Here the background is bold and bright with some random scattered dots and each post contains a bold corner treatment.
I really liked the typography on this theme. The font is old style with large serifs and lots of contrast between the thicks and thins. It makes for some really attractive headlines.
Floaty has a really nice color scheme and layout with lots of nice subtle touches. The background is the element that steals the show though, a large abstract watercolor that almost feels like the reflection of a cloudy sky.
Black diamonds is another theme that just feels classy. Most of the page is fairly average but the dark header is a really nice touch.
Inkhorn definitely has an old school printed feel and contains an efficient two column layout while still keeping the overall content width fairly narrow. One nice touch is the “back to top” button that sits near the bottom and stays with you as you scroll.
Pink Touch 2 has really a really stellar mic of color and texture. The background texture is subtle but adds a lot to the overall design, as do the little 3D banners that wraparound each post.
Sometimes it’s great to break the mold of linear thinking and a grid of content is one of the most logical and organized ways to do that. This is one of the better free grid templates out there so be sure to check it out!
The design of this one is very similar to Pink Touch above: the slightly textured background and pointy patterned header. However, while Pink Touch is definitely a feminine theme, this brings the same ideas with a more masculine gray-driven color scheme.
The stripes on this one are admittedly a bit on the busy side, but they do make for an attractive page that really stands out as unique in this list. I also really like the frame treatment on the images.
This theme combines lots of transparency effects with stone textured background. The effect is a light, airy feel perfect for the casual blogger.
Many of the free themes with a wooden background can be quite hideous, this is one of the better attempts. The large patches of blue really stand out against the wood and help both the aesthetics and the readability.
Here’s another grid-based theme but this time the layout is much more organic due to the variable height of each block of content. The content blocks have rounded corners and the page is topped off with a unique header design.
The header and typography on this theme are super simple but also quite stunning. The biggest thing going for this theme is the increased page width, which makes for huge photos. If you’re a photographer, you’ll definitely want to check out this theme.
Great choice of fonts, a nice color scheme, an attractive texture; this theme has a lot going for it. My favorite design element though is the letterpress icons scattered throughout.
Another variation on the organic stack idea. This one has a much more horizontal layout and some nice shadow effects that really set the content out from the background.
Brutal Simplicity is exactly what the name implies, but in a good way! The thick bars with subtle gradients at the top of each post are a very Mac-like touch.
Out of all the themes that I looked at, this one felt completely unique in its design and layout. The colors and texture give it a retro feel but in a way that isn’t cliche or overused.
As the name implies, this one is all about the letterpressed borders that adorn each post. The use of the cursive Lobster font here clashes a bit with the clean and technical design, but it’s still a really nice looking page.
If you’re looking for something that is super clean without being boring, check out Mint. The plain but attractive background keeps your interest and the layout is a solid centered column with some nice contrasting tones.
Shining is one crazy and random theme. Each post has some random background texture that doesn’t look anything like the one before it. The randomness somehow comes together though and makes for a great looking blog.
The tree image on the left makes for a strong and simple graphic that adds contrast, visual interest and personality to an otherwise simple and efficient theme.
I really love this theme. The typography is stellar, the colors and texture are perfect and the icons are in an interesting round setting with multiple borders. Both the header and the footer finish off the design nicely with their own unique touches. If you’re a designer, this theme might appeal to you.
Sometimes you can’t beat a simple, dark gray radial gradient as a background. This one pulls off the technique nicely and stays very subdued with the post background color varying only slightly from that of the page.
This one is another dark theme, but it’s much more quirky than the subdued nature of the previous theme. The post styling and icons are fairly unique, be sure to stop by and see the full-size preview.
I love the colors on this theme. Despite being called “Modern”, to me it feels straight from the 70s. Everything has a slightly oversized feel to it as well, which really increases the aesthetic impact.
Blue Heron has a fairly unique layout that utilizes a narrow content area and comparatively wide sidebar. The hard shadow effect and interesting background make for a great-looking page.
Cheshire is a crazy looking theme that sort of strikes me as the 90s meets web 2.0. I really like the little tabs that stick off the top of each post.
If you’re looking for a dead simple theme with almost zero fluff, check out Nightnight. The dark colors make for a serious and dramatic presentation of content, balanced out by the thin and light typography.
You can’t miss the impressive border treatment on this theme. It reminds me of something you’d see in an old illustrated children’s book. If you want something that will really strike your visitors as unique, try this one.
Every good theme collection must have at least one design inspired by the mail, and this collection is no exception. Postage uses many familiar design elements to this genre and looks simply fantastic.
Vanilla Pod is another of my favorites because it’s has a visual style that’s all its own. I like the button post badges and the almost completely transparent post backgrounds.
The handwritten script font and scribbled icons give this theme a homemade vibe that’s perfect for all you artsy types out there that don’t want to run for the cliche scrapbook feel.
If you didn’t find anything that suits your needs in the free themes above, it might be time to start looking in the premium arena. Premium Tumblr themes are quite affordable and tend to offer a lot more in both aesthetics and features.
This ThemeForest theme is modeled after the two column layout popularly seen in WordPress blogs. There’s even spaces for ads placement on the right.
This is a gorgeous theme with a grid format to display your portfolio pieces and topped with an iPad visual. Everything from the type down to the hover effects is just perfect for a professional designer’s page.
“Clean and minimalistic portfolio theme with jQuery slider for designers, photographers and illustrators.”
“Vintage sky theme supports all the Tumblr features and has two content rich sidebar, featuring your likes, latest tweets, description, search box, pages, avatar box and people your following.”
“Cream is a clean and simple Tumblr theme using subtle textures and colors for a light and playful feel. Main colors are creamy tones of beige and tan, accented with pinks for links and accent items.”
“This is a clean, minimal and easily customisable theme for Tumblr with a jQuery sliding sidebar for showing who you follow and stuff you like.”
“Fanfarron theme its a elegant and very customizable theme for Tumblr, supports all tumblr features (text posts, photoset posts, quote posts, audio posts, video posts, answer posts, link posts, chat posts, day pages, tag pages, random button for posts, pages, twitter widget, search box, jump pagination, likes, etc) and other caracteristics like support for disqus comments, ad banners, Google Analytics or a Flickr widget.”
“Meteoro 2028 a minimal but robust Portfolio for Tumblr. This item, in particular offer support for Photo Post, Pohotsets an Video post (Youtube an Vimeo for now).”
A visually busy but attractive theme with a rock background, plenty of room for content and a really cool stacking effect with the post badges.
A nice unified design with a frame that ties all of the various elements together. The three column format makes for plenty of room for content and social media integration is built right in.
Scrapbook themes are easy to screw up and turn into something messy and/or ugly, this one looks great though and has a lot of attention to detail. There are plenty of nice touches, including page curls and little staples.
This beautiful theme features a fixed sidebar and great use of texture. The sidebar features links for Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and email and more.
The original Fluid continues to be one of the most popular Tumblr themes around and this sequel attempts to relive that success. The background is a really attractive spectrum, the content area is super wide and the post icons are awesome.
If you’re looking for a travel theme, Paris Nights is a beautiful option complete with a string of lights and various postcards scattered around and poking out from behind the content.
Marber is clean and professional with a sort of notepad feel without the cheesiness that normally comes with that idea.
Savory utilizes lots of texture and layering to create a rich theme with plenty of realism. The two columns are perfectly proportioned and contain plenty of useful features.
Which Theme Do You Use?
Tumblr is an amazing platform driven by a ton of super talented theme designers. With hundreds and hundreds of options to choose from, the aim of this post was to narrow the selection down a bit so you only have to sift through the truly stellar themes that stand out from the rest in terms of design.
Leave a comment below and let us know which theme you currently have installed and why. Feel free to leave a link to your Tumblr blog so we can take a look!