I bought an html/css template and made some magic happen to kludge my wordpress blog into it. So the home page is actually wordpress and the rest of the site is html/css.
I could have probably just used wordpress for the whole site but keeping the blog was a last minute decision and i already had the rest of the site put together.
The site template can be edited with any text editor. I use dreamweaver mostly because i learned how to use it a few years ago and because of the split screen, code/visual view. It makes it easier to edit the template. But i still edit the css or html with notepad when i just want to make a quick change.
The template was $12 bucks. Add the cost of dreamweaver and some sweat equity and you will get yourself a sweet website on the cheap. Or you can hire a pro (thats me :) and skip the dreamweaver purchase.
This site has insanely cool templates for dirt cheap: http://themeforest.net
One regret that i have is the dark color. At first i was like "WOW this is so cool"... And it is for the store/services/portfolio pages because the dark helps make the images 'pop'. But the dark background and light text sucks on the blog page. The text was light gray and i changed it to white and increased the font size in an attempt to make it easier to read. Finally i changed the background color to blue from black and it became much easier to read the blog page. I would switch to a lighter template but there is so much work involved trying to manipulate the wordpress layout and then just plugging your images into the gallery tool and blah blah blah. It was like 2 solid weeks of work. I bet i put 100+ hours into the redesign.
I haven't been posting lately and i haven't finished the tactical template series because i got so burned out on it. After the holidays i will finish up tactical and add a new template that i am working on and start blogging again.
I know this is way more information than you were looking for but i have been in a hotel room for a month working on an out of town project so.... :)