IANARealtor, but I am the daughter of one. I’m also a cheapskate and may one day be a homeowner. To top off my credentials, I am a home improvement show addict.
IMHO, you have to do something, and obviously you want to do as little (financially and work-wise) as you can to make it more attractive.
First step, as it’s easiest and cheapest, is to paint that banister. Get it all the same color, and we won’t notice it’s been repaired piecemeal. I actually kind of like the jagged, modern lines of it, but if the rest of the home is more traditional, you’re going to have to change the shape of it as well. A person who likes the modern look of that banister won’t like a traditional house, and a person who likes a traditional house won’t like the modern banister. The “feel” of the house starts with the front, before the house itself is even entered.
The easy quick and relatively cheap way to soften the lines of the banister would be to add a bottom rail and verticals like these or even wooden spindles. It will make it look safer, sturdier and more intentional.
Once you’ve got a safer looking banister, look to landscaping. The cheapest landscaping is container gardening, and stairs look great with containers of plants on each level. Something like this is gorgeous. The advantage here is that you could, if you’re willing, dig into the ground next to the stairs and have rather tall planters that put the plants up at stair level without taking up stair width to do it. And you can take the plants out of the chimney flue liners and bring them with you when you move, if you like. Of course there are also planters available for sale at garden centers and flea markets.
The final and most expensive way to improve would be to steal a note from your neighbor - I *vastly *prefer his terraced gardens to your awkward grassy slope. I look at his, I think, “Ooh! I could put herbs in that level and wildflowers up top, or maybe home grown tomatoes!” while I look at the foreground and I go, “Ugh. How on earth do they even mow that? I’m going to have to buy a lawnmower and it’s going to be a pain in the ass to get it up there. Looks like it’s such a pain for them - look, there’s a bunch of grassy mulch left because someone waited too long to mow. It’s obviously a job that gets put off as long as possible.”