In recent months, I became increasingly agitated by my site's header. Don't get me wrong - rtPanel is about as compact as they come. But I couldn't find any GOOD themes with widgetized headers.
I put up a $100 bounty for customizations I wanted to see on the forum of rtCamp (developers of rtPanel). Gagan worked with me, through a few iterations, and the resulting Child Theme of rtPanel is fantastic - widgetized header, highly compact. If you're interested in how I used it, check my blog. There's a below-the-logo widget that could fit images or a ton of text -- I used it for a Google Leaderboard sized ad. There's another widget on the right hand side of the header. I put my Feedburner form and my social buttons in that. And the menu bar also includes a stylish "Search" box.
I made the Child Theme, with widgetized header and menu search box included, available for free. There are also some basic installation instructions.
If anybody's aware of WordPress non-premium themes that are as highly customizable as rtPanel and feature a widgetized header, please share them. I looked a lot, and there didn't seem to be much available. I've seen multiple similar requests on other forums.
If anybody ends up using this Child Theme, please let me know because I'd like to see the results and link to stylish applications of it. I've also modified my footer to link to the Child Theme's page on my website. A link to this site is appreciated, since it will help spread this excellent, compact WordPress theme.