Thanks for your thoughts. I stumbled across the same sites and had almost the same ideas this morning. I actually called one of those stair kit places earlier today, waiting for a response.
I'm trying to decide if I should I run the rail all the way up the top or terminate it at the half-wall ceiling. If I run it to the top I'll have to thicken the entire stringer as you mention and live with the aesthetics of it. If I terminate it at the ceiling then of course I'll have an open triangle space that will need to be secured and I'm not sure I'll be able to do anything that looks alright over there.
Hi 12 penny. Thanks for your advice too. I am checking out all options here. I am also going to look into finding a stairbuilder to see what might be possible. We are on a tight budget but maybe we can get creative.