Quote: As a designer, I also think that the TheBrain company could profit highly from hiring a professional interface designer (I am no interface designer myself, so don't see this as self-promotion ). There is much that could be done better here and the app could be made much more approachable for people that are not so tech-savvy. While I like the idea of being able to customize the design, I also think that there should be a more modern and professional looking base theme. There should be no need for customization except when you have specific needs. If you look at the (especially in mac and design circles) popular writing app Writer , there are no settings at all to customize it's appearance, because the interface is so well done that there is no need for it (which should also help focus on the main task – writing, instead of messing with colors and fonts). This. To answer the OP, I tend to use minimal themes such as solarized, and then have the thought text be a contrasting color. I try to use a crisp font (currently using Avenir Next), use a very subdued text shadow color, have colors apply to the text and set the thoughts background to be slightly darker but the same color as the plex background so it disappears unless you mouseover a thought. In general I try to keep the non text color palette subdued and close to the plex background color, I reserve the bolder colors for when I mouseover (so highlighted). Same with the links, I use curved (of course), but set them as thin as possible, and only slightly darker or lighter than the plex background so you can barely see them unless you mouseover. I find that when there are a lot of thoughts on screen this helps keep things readable, and using bold link colors when mousing over makes it easier to navigate. This isn't to say I never use picture backgrounds, sometimes I switch it up out of boredom. However, the pictures I use are usually calm and mostly one color, with a splash of color in a specific area. I'll use this for a while and then go back to the solarized again. Sorry, it's probably a bit boring, but in this case, boring works well for me.