Being a "Program junkie" and using computers since 1984, it's hard to say what started me down this long, winding road to customization. I too went the route of alternate shell programs. (Litestep, bbLean, Talisman, Aston) A freeware program, PowerPro, let me make toolbars, menus and lots of other stuff (and I still use it for macros, menus, alarms, hotkeys and stuff) but my taskbar and windows were still Boring! Then I got stuck on StyleXP for the longest time and I thought I was happy.
When I got my NEW computer, it had Vista, which StyleXP didn't work on, so I searched for an alternative and recently (June, 2008) found Windowblinds. I've since purchased ObjectDesktop Ultimate and OD plus. I go through WC everyday (sometimes more than once!) and get more skins, dreams, widgets etc. I've made one widget and uploaded some Walls.
It's taken over my life! (and I love every minute of it!)