it isn't hard to customize.. you can cheat and get a good head start on it..
don't worry about learning the php... You can use existing php in a working theme, and just modify the html and related css files.
listen up, this is the way I go about it:
I open a webpage via browser and view it's source.
I open a theme (the one to be modified) via html editor.
I copy the applicable html and paste it into the theme, replacing the parts of the theme I want to alter.
If it is before the blog content, it traditionally goes into the header.php
If it IS the blog content it goes traditionally into index.php
If there are sidebars it goes into -- sidebar.php (often one left and one right, or sometimes the left one is included in the header.php- whatever...)
The trick is finding what theme file controls the output to what part of the page, and modifying the theme to duplicate the static page you want to use.
There are other tricks too.. I have made WP do some pretty cool stuff.. for one sharing a theme with Simple Machines Forum and Gallery2...
Don't let folks charge you for something you can do yourself just because they make it seem more difficult than it is.
check out my page: here it looks like no other WP format out there, because it isn't... I started with a static HTML page and started building WP to duplicate on output...