I think the answer depends on whether you'd rather spend several hours grappling with CSS, or several hours grappling with PHP.
My brain architecture is incompatible PHP, so I wouldn't want to mess with that, but I can tell when something looks good and so would do the CSS thing.
I'm not really good with either, that's why I use extensions. The front end, as far as I can tell is jut DataAssist plus CSS (plus eCart of course). I already have a design for the front end. It just seems a good solution for the backend. Saves having to build that.
This particular client has already agreed a price. The rest of the site is built and now all that remains is the store. So an additional monthly fee will not do in this case. I agree about PayPal Standard for the next addition or even another (separate) edition that concentrates on remote checkouts.
You need to hear from a WA person about your original post and queries.
Yeah, more templates would be good but I generally do custom designs and you can spend a lot of time adapting a template when, from scratch, can be quicker. They're OK if all your doing is changing a logo or something.
Yes, to hear from WA would be nice!! (hint)