Magnificent work! - a couple of questions...
What a gorgeous site.
I'm thinking very seriously about basing a small community site on drupal and I have a few questions. But I'm getting ahead of myself. First let me congratulate you on what you've managed with this site.
I came across the Padded Cell article while searching speculatively for Drupal as an alternative to VBulletin. I expected to find neither an article articulating almost every annoyance I've had with VB, nor such a stunning implementation of a drupal alternative. The pages feel lighter and snappier, everything works as it should and the forum looks sharp and elegant - something I have never been able to say about VB. You've done a superb job.
How much PHP did it need to configure the drupal modules this way? Mine is shallow to say the least. My needs would be far simpler than yours - the community I have in mind wouldn't need new post counts, portfolios, mark forums as read or post subscriptions, but a slick appearance would be essential.
How much PHP work goes into the drupal default to bring about this sensational transformation?