This is a tale of two cocktails. A large open space can be the best of times, can be the worst of times when it comes to creating a floor plan. The known of this space is that there are definitely multiple uses for the room, and that the uses meld often. Great conversation will come from the entire space. It is a gathering place and should not feel divided.
Once the vision of the room has been discussed and understood with your designer, and the seating placement has been finalized, it is important to address the occasional table aspect of the floor plan. The importance of comfort is still an important factor during this design phase. A guest can be comfortable in the seating, but comfort extends to the simplicity of where a wine glass or a small appetizer plate can be sat. A guest's full hands doesn't encourage lively, relaxed conversation.
There will be obvious placement of occasional tables. And then there will be a "why not" approach that will be the inspiration for a well-designed gathering space.
Creativity and restraint will be your goal. Though the occasional pieces are part of a utility need, they also should provide sculpture, texture, and cleverness in the space. However, don't shy away from using two of the same table in the space. It could be the perfect answer. Just don't fall to that solution because it is the easier one.
Guests shouldn't look across the space and be jealous of the other guests surroundings. There needs to be a balance and continuity.
Rethinking the look of things in a large space shouldn't be a worry when the time comes to design it. Because it can be the best of times.
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