Finding furniture to grow with your family

These pieces will transition through at least a few stages in your child's life.
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Bag the chairArchitect and designer Julie Fisher of the West Loop’s fcStudio Inc. likes Fatboy beanbag chairs to create cozy spots to cuddle or read with baby. Later, they’re a perfect spot for tweens to chill. One Chicago family bought multiples in stain-masking chocolate and gray to keep stacked in the playroom, ready to pull down when the kids have friends over. $239 for the original (55" x 70") and $159 for the junior size (40" x 50") at Pearl Furniture (1400 W Hubbard St, 312-498-9994). Photo: Merijn Roest
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Bright futureGlasson advises thinking ahead when it comes to lighting: Kids will outgrow ducks and bunnies, but a clean-lined pendant lamp or a fanciful crystal chandelier maintains its appeal even while the baby moves from crib to big bed and beyond. Opal and crystal white frame chandelier with three lights, $320 at Twinkle Twinkle Little One (3224 N Damen Ave, 773-472-3000, twinkletwinklelittleone.com).  
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Distressed nameboard from Twinkle Twinkle Little One
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Letters of recommendationWalk into a baby’s room and there’s a good chance you’ll see the child’s name spelled out on the wall. To “get away from the typical letters hanging from ribbons” that tend to look juvenile, Rachel Glasson of Twinkle Twinkle Little One partners with a local woodworker who makes these timeless, distressed letter boards that spell names or phrases out of reclaimed wood in a whitewash, graywash or natural finish. $38 per letter includes the board (3224 N Damen Ave, 773-472-3000, twinkletwinklelittleone.com).
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Shelf lifeLook for “furniture that’s more sophisticated and more multistage,” says Grace Lee of giggle, a New York–based chain with a store in Lincoln Park. She likes the Oeuf Mini Library, which “you can use in your living room.” The sleek, 42" tall shelves are easy to reach for little ones and are made of recovered wood fibers; $660 at giggle (2116 N Halsted St, 773-296-6228).
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Ottoman empireA Moroccan-style pouf can start life in the nursery as a footrest for a glider/rocker and later double as a reading perch, says Sarah Culbertson from Land of Nod. Beyond the bedroom, it can provide extra seating in the family room for watching TV or playing video games. This faux-leather version offers eye-catching style at an easily digestible price and comes in five colors. $79 at Land of Nod (900 W North Ave, 312-475-9903, and suburban locations).
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Land of Nod Three in One table
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Periodic tableInstead of buying a standard train table, go for a more versatile option like the Three Sizes Fit All Table. Changing the legs raises it from a 15" high table that’s perfect for trains to a 23" table that young kids can sit at for art projects to a 30" high desk. The classic styling means it’s easy to move from family room to bedroom. From $189 for the low table to $449 for a complete set with two rolling bins, two additional sets of legs and paper roller at Land of Nod (900 W North Ave, 312-475-9903, and suburban locations).
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Bag the chairArchitect and designer Julie Fisher of the West Loop’s fcStudio Inc. likes Fatboy beanbag chairs to create cozy spots to cuddle or read with baby. Later, they’re a perfect spot for tweens to chill. One Chicago family bought multiples in stain-masking chocolate and gray to keep stacked in the playroom, ready to pull down when the kids have friends over. $239 for the original (55" x 70") and $159 for the junior size (40" x 50") at Pearl Furniture (1400 W Hubbard St, 312-498-9994). Photo: Merijn Roest
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Baby and children’s furnishings can be such a big investment—it’d be nice to find pieces that last at least as long as your kids’ baby teeth. But items that promise to change Transformers-style (hint: They usually have “convertible” in their name) often don’t serve any of their touted purposes too well.

We asked retailers and designers to identify items that transition well through at least a few stages, and along the way, we learned what to look for: well-crafted pieces that fit the style of the rest of your home so they can move into another room if they’re no longer needed in the nursery. Furniture, lighting, rugs, storage (both shelves and containers) and even wall art can all go on to lead a productive existence elsewhere. As for the too-cute items you can’t resist or the licensed character du jour? The experts suggest saving them for bedding, pillows and  other accents.

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