It’s a real challenge to find free themes on WordPress.org that offer left AND right sidebars, with the post or page content in a central column. This is partly because it’s a less common layout, and partly due to rampant vagueness in the definitions of WordPress features. If you use the “three columns” feature filter, for example, many themes in the resulting list will have two content columns and only one sidebar. Or three content columns and NO sidebar! There will also be a few themes that only offer both-sides sidebars in the premium version. They shouldn’t be tagging “pro” features on the free version, but no one is monitoring that very closely, it seems.
Luckily for you, I’m working on a site that calls for such a theme, so I threshed out the true two-sidebar themes for you. Here are some free themes available at WordPress.org that allow you to select a layout with sidebars on both sides. All of the themes in this list have been updated since the last major update to the WordPress core (4.7):
If none of these themes work for you, here’s how to check sidebar options on other themes. Install and activate the theme. Go to Customize. Look for a Layout Options tab. If you don’t see one, check General Options and Theme Options for a Layout submenu. If you still don’t see layout options, go to Widgets. You can immediately see whether there is more than one sidebar in the widget area list.
If layout selection is graphical, note that the two sidebars option is the one with GRAY sidebars. The three column layout with white on both sides gives you a narrower content column, without sidebars.
Of course, layout shouldn’t be your only consideration when choosing a theme. For other design features to consider, check out 6 Important Design Characteristics of a WordPress Theme. And for tips on selecting a secure, long-lasting and well-supported theme, read Is This Theme Right for Me?
Article updated 6/24/19. All themes on the list have been updated by their author within the past 6 months.