On the first day after I bought my house in San Francisco, I put a sledgehammer through a wall, on purpose. Walking up the enclosed stairwell was like being sent down a tunnel, not coming home. So, goodbye walls!
After I'd smashed down the old and reframed the new, and after the drywall, flooring, and electrical contractors did their things, I was left with a nice open entryway into which you could plunge to your death. Not great for housewarming parties.
Luckily, I had a BIG pipe bender at work. I tried it first with aluminum pipe but found out the hard way that the bender was much stronger than the pipe. After that, I stuck with steel, and after some trial and error, and lugging pipe up and down the stairs (and back and forth to work), I came up with a stairwell railing and a doom-preventing upstairs railing.
It's made from regular 1" steel pipe, joined with fittings from Kee Klamp. The in-fill pieces are laser-cut steel frames with perforated metal inserts that I cut and welded in place. I drew the frames in Solidworks and had them cut at the same time as the letters for the urban screen door--the letters nested inside the frames, to save metal. The vintage draftsman's lamp clamped to the top rail was an eBay find--it's in great shape, is easy to re-position for task lighting, and the brown paint matches the brown I was already using for the rails.
Best of all, the railing passed city code inspection at the end of the renovation, and I haven't fallen down the stairs yet.