Maybe a bold pattern on your walls is a little to risky for you. So, think outside of the box! Install patterned wallpaper on your stair risers for a bold look, without a scary commitment. Mark - note the side trim!
this would actually be a really fun idea to bring light into the space. a ladder could go against the wall where the metal desk is now with string lights. it would be nice to see walking into the room from the hallway