If you still haven't found a vertical planter idea that is exactly your style, maybe this one will do it for you. The pots are simply held in position by a single piece of rebar put through the drain holes of the pots. Perfect for small herbs!
For the basement stairs: cabinets, stairs with flip up steps and very narrow stairs. Each step goes up one at a time for each foot. It is sort of spaced so you are putting one foot per step with a steeper step. Very space-saving.