Are you sick of Kodi’s current look? Are you wanting to improve your Kodi viewing experience with a new, fresh looking Kodi skin, but don’t know where to start?
There are a lot of Kodi skins, and it’s time-consuming to try out each one that you find. I know, I’ve tried a lot!
In this post, I’ll share with you my very favorite Kodi skins to improve your Kodi experience and to save you the time of trying them all.
My Judging Criteria for Kodi Skins
I have a certain set of requirements for my favorite Kodi skins.
To explain why I picked the ones I picked, here are my criteria:
- It’s got to look good, of course!
- It needs to display the navigation and lists in an intuitive fashion.
- It needs to have a lot of view layouts available to choose from.
- I want the ability to modify the main menu items and sub-menu items.
- I want to be able to add home screen widgets that can pull from a screen within a streaming add-on (like Trakt New Episodes).
- Having a slide-out sidebar shortcut to the current add-on’s settings window is a plus!
Now, I know what you might be thinking… This isn’t a custom skin. It’s the default!
If you’re fairly new to Kodi, or have installed it from scratch since Kodi 17 Krypton, then yes, you are correct. Estuary is the default skin that came with Kodi 17.
However, if you’ve been using the same installation of Kodi since version 16 or earlier, then you might still be using the old default skin, Confluence. Confluence was the default skin for Kodi for a very long time, long before Kodi was called XBMC.
If you’re still using Confluence, I suggest giving Estuary a try. I found it to be a very nice upgrade.
The look in Estuary was much improved over Confluence by going with a more modern flat design with subtle gradients, shadows, and transparencies.
Estuary also came with a nicer way to display library content widgets on the home screen.
The downside, is those nice home screen widgets only worked for library content. If you are using a streaming add-on, then you won’t be able to see your favorite shows or new episodes on your home screen unless you setup library integration.
But one upside, is that the Estuary skin does have the add-on settings shortcut in the slide-out sidebar. This is super handy if you are inside a streaming add-on, and you want to tweak the settings a bit. Instead of having to back all the way out the to add-on’s main screen to go to Tools or Settings, you can access the settings from the slide-out menu, and the settings open in a popup window, so you don’t lose your place.
The Arctic: Zephr themes is one of my all-time favorite Kodi skins and has been for a long time primarily because of the home screen widgets that you can configure.
I’ve written a tutorial specifically on how to configure these spotlight widgets on the Arctic Zephr skin.
You can configure different widgets that pull from different screens nested deep inside streaming add-ons, and it will pull in all of the information, poster, and fanart for each of the items on that screen and display it beautifully on the home screen.
Just press the up button and start scrolling left or right to highlight each episode and watch the details and fanart background change.
This skin definitely gets a very high score from me in the aesthetics department. The light, clean, minimalist, and functional design lets the posters and fanart stand out, and it looks gorgeous on my TV.
You can even completely customize your main menu items and submenu items to point to wherever you want, even a shortcut deep inside a specific add-on if you want.
Unfortunately, this skin does have some downsides.
First, while this spotlight widget that I’m raving about so much used to work great, I’ve found lately that I can’t click on any of the items. I don’t know if it’s just my setup, or if the skin is incompatible with the latest Kodi version. I still like to have it so I can see the latest episodes, but then I just use a menu item or submenu item to go to the screen where I see the same items to click on them.
Secondly, it does not have the add-on settings shortcut in the slide-out side menu, so if you want to go change the add-on’s settings, you have to back out of where you are and go back to it when you’re done. That’s kind of a nuisance if you find yourself tweaking your settings a lot.
The Aeon Nox Kodi skin was one of my favorites for many years in the earlier days of Kodi, even when it was XBMC.
It’s been continued to be maintained since then, and is still one of the best Kodi skins out there.
One advantage of this skin is that it is very configurable. The skin settings has a ton of stuff that you can change. But, at the same time, it looks great out of the box.
The design of Aeon Nox is very refined and nice looking. I like the dark, glowing, shadows, and glass look throughout the skin.
It does have the ability to configure home screen widgets that point to screens within add-ons. However, it’s not nearly as nice looking (IMO) as the widgets on Arctic Zephr.
You can see they decided to show a vertical list to the right for some reason. You can only see the poster and fanart for the one that is currently selected. I much prefer seeing a row of posters.
Another advantage of Aeon Nox is the link to Add-on settings in the sidebar that you can see in this screenshot.
It also has a lot of view layouts to choose from; much more than most skins. Here is one of my favorites called Wall.
If you’re a fan of minimalist design, the Andromeda skin is another very nice option.
It has a fairly unique home screen design with the menu items on the top, with their submenu items above them. It looks a little odd until you figure it out since the submenu items are aligned with other main menu items even though they are not related.
On top of that (literally), they’ve buried a lot of the utility buttons like favorites, search, weather, settings, power, and volume controls.
I was happy to see they have the ability to setup widgets under each main menu item, and you can have them pull from add-on screens. To go one step further, they allow you to add up to 5 different widgets for each menu item. The rows for each widget stack on top of each other, so you scroll down to see the other widgets.
Unfortunately, one downside is the lack of the add-on settings shortcut in the slide-out side menu.
Now let me hear from all of you! What are your favorite Kodi skins?
Let me know in the comments below.