How to Customize Estuary, Kodi’s New Default Skin

Kodi 17.0, codename Krypton, is here. There are all kinds of new features, but the most obvious is the new default theme: Estuary. This theme looks great, and is very functional, but it gets better.

Unlike default themes of the past, Estuary gives you a lot of room to customize things. You can choose which sub-sections show up under sections like TV and Movies, and also pick custom backgrounds and colors. Here’s how to tweak Kodi to look just the way you want it, without installing a new skin.

Access the Theme Settings

First, let’s find the basic theme settings. From the main screen in Kodi, click the gear near the top-left of the screen, beside the power button.

This will take you to the main System Settings screen. To start, select Skin settings.

From here you’ll be brought to the General section of the Skin settings.

There are a few things to toggle here. including whether the current outdoor temperature shows up below the clock at the top-right of the screen. I personally like to enable this. The other things you can tweak here are relatively straightforward: whether or not the slide animations take place, whether plot descriptions scroll on the screen when they’re too long to show up otherwise, and enabling media flags (the small icons that metadata like 1080p or surround sound).

This doesn’t seem like much, because it isn’t. The real fun gets started in the other sub-menus.

Edit What’s in Your Home Screen

Head to the “Main menu items” submenu and you can turn off any of the screens that show up in the main menu.

Don’t have music on your media center? You can turn the section off altogether. Don’t see the point of having a “Video” section, when there’s already a “TV Shows” and “Movies” section? Turn it off. You can even completely remove categories like “Movies” and “TV Shows” from your main menu, if you want. Just flip the switches on this page.

You can even edit what categories show up under each of these sections on the main page. For example, if you don’t want to see “Recently Viewed” TV shows, or “Currently Watching,” you can remove them by clicking “Edit Categories” under TV Shows. When you do, you’ll be prompted to install the Library Note Editor add-on. Go ahead and choose Yes.

The add-on will eventually launch, showing you the sub-sections in your menu.

You can delete any category pressing “C” to trigger the menu, then using the delete button.

I’m not a huge fan of the “Recently Added” section in the TV and Movie screens, because I don’t add things very often, so I removed it. You can also create custom categories based on a variety of criteria; dive in and you’ll be up and running in no time.

Change the Background Images

The home screen, by default, has a static background image. Head to the “Artwork” section, however, and you can change this.

The first option, whether you should show media fanart as a background, will change the fanart behind your skin depending on the currently selected media. For example, if you slide over to Star Trek: The Next Generation in the main menu, you’ll see a Star Trek image behind the interface.

It’s subtle, but some users really like it. And with this option enabled you can also select fanart packs to show while browsing things like genres, countries, and the weather.

For example: if you download a weather fanart pack, then check out the weather in the home screen, you’ll see different images behind everything depending on the conditions outside.

See the rain in the background? That’s because I live in Oregon, and it’s February. You may need to close Kodi (using the power button, not Control+F4) and re-open it in order for these tweaks to work.

There are a lot of options here, so dive in and play with it until you find something you like. You can really make your home screen feel like your own, without changing themes.

Change the Interface Color

Finally, you can change the color overlay of the entire skin. To do this, we need to head back to the System Settings screen, this time selecting “Interface Settings.”

Here, you’ll find the option to change the skin’s color, which gives you a variety of options.

If you really really love the color orange, that option is available. I’m sure lots of people are happy about that.

Perhaps you prefer green? Go with that.

And I used purple in a screenshot above. You get the idea.

You can also change, or disable, the interface’s sounds from this panel, or even add a custom RSS feed (we recommend this one, obviously.)

We think Estuary is a beautiful Kodi skin, but are also pleasantly surprised with how customizable it is. Sure, you can’t add a mess of widgets to the home screen, but you’ve got a lot of flexibility to make it work the way you want it to, and look the way you want it to as well. Dive in and see what you can come up with!

Justin Pot is a staff writer for How-To Geek, and a technology enthusiast who lives in Hillsboro, Oregon. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, if you want. You don't have to.