Cutline is beautiful, but it’s not the answer I’m looking for. Your mileage may well vary, because this is a very attractive theme; unfortunately, it runs up against some of my strong preferences. Or, some would say, prejudices.
One “simple” solution for a WordPress theme is to build separate, but stylistically consistent, templates for the various types of WP pages–the index, home, single entries, what WP calls pages (I might call them essays), catalogues, etc. That’s Cutline’s approach, and it’s a nice implementation. The theme looks good, is fairly easy to customize, supports catchy graphics, and loads quickly. These are virtues, and collectively they explain why this is among the most popular WP themes.
The code that makes this work isn’t especially interesting. It’s workmanlike, and (let us say) uninspiring. To this HTML codeslinger, some of the tricks are a bit unsettling; in particular, Cutline uses the <Hx> tags in ways which undermine any hope one might have that those tags, by implying structure, add meaning to the document. (That’s not to say I’ve never done something similar; it’s just an observation about the coding style.) The CSS is similar, as you’d expect; it works, but another coder would have solved some of the problems differently.
Then there’s that 970 pixel graphic across the top. Looks terrific, but it runs off the edge of the screen….