Allow buttons to be split into sections
Nathan the moderator made a nice looking homescreen using a combination of the remote and widgets and one of the nice things about it was the placement of buttons allowing some empty space between sets of buttons, splitting the remote into sections. I think the custom remote XML layout thing should support this so you don't need to use tricks/a homescreen.
Yeah it would definitely be great to have more control over the layout in a remote, I guess it adheres to basic XML standards.
You can play around with the row weight, as seen in this remote, to spread the remote out differently. This can allow for dead space too (http://community.unifiedremote.com/topic/715/emulators-emulators-emulators/3).