Many people buy homes with formal dining rooms and end up tossing a table in there because they don't know what else to do with the room. If you aren't going to dine in there often, consider turning it into something more useable. Here are some ideas to get you started.
1. A playroom. A formal dining room is a great room for children to play in because it is in a central location. Purchase some "worn" looking furniture (like a knotty pine) so it can handle a few dings or scratches on it. Line one wall with some bookshelves and cabinets (to hide toys) and get a craft table big enough for you to throw a tablecloth on for any meals you may want to eat in there. Place some colorful art on the wall and a plant in the corner for decor and you are done!
2. A game room. Instead of a dining room table, get a nice pool table. Some can even convert to a regular table if you still want to dine in there occasionally. Line some bookshelves with some favorite family games and toss a few chairs in the corners. A patterned throw rug under the pool table and some decorations (like vases, family photos, and leather books) will make the room look less like a billiard hall.
3. A music room. If anyone plays the piano in your family, buy a baby grand piano. It is a beautiful centerpiece for any room. Frame old music sheets and put them on the walls. Find an antique metronome, old instruments, framed photos of musicians (or family members playing instruments), and piano books to fill your shelves.
4. A bar. Most kitchens don't have enough space for a bar. Place cabinets, wine racks, drawers, and a bar along one wall. Add some nice club chairs and a small table to the center of the room. Add a dimmer switch to your light to add ambiance. You and your friends will enjoy relaxing in privacy!
5. A library. If you are a bookworm, line all of the walls with bookshelves. Put a comfortable chair in the corner, along with a decorative reading lamp. If you have frequent overnight guests (and the room is large enough), you can add a murphy bed to one of the walls.
Don't get stuck creating a formal dining room that you will never use. Try one of these ideas instead!