We bought a house two years ago and with it, we gained a formal dining room. I had never wanted a formal dining room, because I knew I would never use it. Well, we decided that if it was fun and vibrant then we would use it. So, that's what we set out to do. All the built-ins were painted bright white, the walls painted gray, we got all the furniture (minus the metal garden chairs) secondhand and we really just created a fun space that was usable by our family. I would love to hear your thoughts on the dining room.
You can see more details: http://biggerthanthethreeofus.com/adding-some-layers-in-the-formal-dining-room/