How would you like to go from this:

to this:

Add the following to your settings, accessible by File → Preferences → Settings.

{
    "editor.codeLens": false,
    "editor.minimap.enabled": false,
    "editor.renderIndentGuides": false,
    "window.menuBarVisibility": "toggle",
    "workbench.activityBar.visible": false,
    "workbench.colorTheme": "Default Light+",
    "workbench.iconTheme": null,
    "workbench.startupEditor": "newUntitledFile",
    "workbench.statusBar.visible": false
}

With the activity bar hidden, toggle Explorer using Ctrl + Shift + E and Search using Ctrl + Shift + F.

Press Alt to reveal the menu bar.

Note that this specifies the Default Light+ color theme, which you can omit or change.

Let me know in the comments if you have any suggestions for improvements!

Note: This is targeting Visual Studio Code version 1.14.2.