I chose a wool sisal style staircase runner with very narrow binding. It's installed about 3 inches from the sides (and cut out around the newel post). The big area rug is the same, but with a different binding. Larger area rugs do wonders for small spaces! A mostly wool and sisal blend or Just plain wool or nylon because sisal is slippery and stains definitively.
installing seagrass safavieh stair runner - Google Search What I like about this is the black trimmed carpet, and stairs, and handrail. Plus, the closet under the stairs. I also like that the wall is behind the stairwell, rather than in front, and blocking as ours currently is. Thinking this is the answer to improving the ambiance of our basement room.