Basement stairs update - opened up, brightened up

The basement project has been underway for almost a year now (not including the planning phases). The biggest setback for project completion has been me, not the sub-contractors. Between work (with its ever changing COVID plans), no childcare (thanks again, COVID), and months and months of morning sickness (baby #3 due in August!), very little got checked off of any "to do" list. But, I finally feel human again. And I've restarted the many projects that were put on hold, like the basement stairs.

The basement stairs started out like this:

Its not pretty. The stairs were literally orange. They were also completely worn down in spots, not to mention huge gouges from pet claws. The trim was absolutely terrible. You can see poor transitions and even huge holes in the stair skirt. The railing only reached halfway down the stairs. And overall, the stairs just felt dark and dungeon-y. There was nothing about this staircase worth saving.

The first thing we did was open up as much of the staircase wall as possible to give it a more open feel.

Not a great picture, but you get the idea. After the framing and drywall were in, I went to work on scribing the new skirtboards, adding trim and shiplap, caulking and painting. We hired our usual handyman to install the new stair treads and risers, so I went ahead and painted the risers and stained the treads ahead of time. After the treads and risers were installed, I felt like the stairway just looked too dark. Frustrating! I eventually gave in and sanded off the stain and caulked and painted the treads instead. I love the difference it made!

The baseboard trim & corner pieces aren't quite finished because my miter saw broke, but its so close! Last up will be a stair runner and an iron railing. We chose an indoor/outdoor carpet for the stairs, Stanton St. Lucia in clay (which looks completely different than the online picture). The runner will not only save the dog from slipping down the stairs, but it'll also give the stairs some texture and depth. I'll unfortunately be hiring out the installation to save my back (back pain seems to start earlier with each pregnancy). I haven't completely decided on the railing style yet, but we're leaning towards a horizontal iron railing. I can't wait to finally finish up this part of the basement project and post the completed project!