I love the little semi-oval space the rail creates, bookcases, lighting and wood floor. A little library has been created out of "dead" space. This is just too good for words (Southern Living Idea House, Charleston).
Kylie M Interiors is fantastic--I just discovered her web page. she describes several elements of choosing paint color I didn't know. I think I'll pick the perfect dark hallway paint (LRV) after learning from her site. Thank you Kylie!