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The difference in what is seen between the two photo sets is illuminating; if one way of looking at the house doesn't suit, there's always the alternative. The lesson is simply how different an object can be, as seen by two pairs of eyes, and with two choices of equipment ?
There's one glaring fault in this lovely place. Can there be any doubt that the arrangement of the brick steps at the level change represents a hazard ?
Two alternatives suggest themselves. The second version could be achieved now without too much destruction of the existing material:
Your first solution would create an awkward access to the right of the stair, leading to the family room, to the width of a single step. I think that one is a non-starter. Your second solution would introduce an unattractive element into the design. A diagonal changes the direction toward the kitchen, which I suspect Ms Killion did not want.
Stairs are always a bit dangerous, and one should be attentive to how one navigates them. I suspect messing with what has seemingly worked all these years would not add much, if any, value.