Now if I can only find a way to make the file explorer use something else than that obnoxious white background.
Quite agree. Like this?
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For explorer- related backgrounds- Qttabbar (free), by Quizo. Choose what colours you like in various parts of the panes. Optionally adds tabs to explorer windows too.
(Note: other 'standard' backgrounds require a registry tweak or use Superfly's SMACC utility from this forum and a little more to cope with resume from Sleep etc).