love the wall color! A rich cocoa makes the small entryway seem grand. Black semigloss paint on the railing and accents of crisp white create a bold contrast, one of the keys to livening up a neutral palette.
For basement stairs -displaying your photographs at home and using fabric to fill in until more photos may be added. Or if moving exchange your photos out for scrapbooking paper to help depersonalize the space I like this and the colour of the wall too!