If you have ever tried to develop a Drupal theme from scratch or used the Garland theme or any other standard theme that comes with Drupal to build a custom theme, then we share the same pain. The first site I developed I customized a template but the next one required a ton of custom design. I found the Zen theme module to be invaluable as a bare bones Drupal theme. Ok you can stop reading now and click the link below because I'm about to fill the screen with a rant about my search for Zen.
Why is it called Zen? I had looked all over the web before looking for a bare bones Drupal theme to work from, but I found nothing. It's because they had to use some fancy name like Zen and couldn't start with something more descriptive. I hate how small projects try to emulate big projects by using cool names. Sorry you're not Google. You can't call your project Ice Cream Sandwich or somehting cool like Zen and expect people to know what it is, let alone beable to find it while searching. Programmers have such a poor understanding of SEO. Why call it Zen, when you could call it the bare bones theme project, starting theme, start from scratch Drupal theme or something else more searchable then "Zen" (heavy sarcasm). In any case I have named this article Bare Bones Drupal Theme and wrote all this content which is really mostly a rant in order to help Google realize that the Zen project has something to do with a bare bones template. I hope you find something when you search for bare bones template or the like from now on out, because I want to save others the pain of trying to customize a pre-existing template. Perhaps you found this article and Zen was just what you were looking for. Here is the link to the Drupal project:
[Bare bones drupal theme zen](http://drupal.org/project/zen)