Hey, Andy, my husband wants to know if that was GMT or local time?
Seriously, and am so in agreement with using your formal dining room. When we built a house the formal dining room was a large consideration for us, and my family and friends said that since we had large outdoor eating area, an eat-in kitchen, an island eating bar ... well we wouldn't use the formal dining room. "No one ever does." Well, we lived in that house for 6 years and all the people who forewarned me of the waste ate there many, many times, my parents at least every week, family and friends at least monthly. When we sold the house the buyers bought the furniture in the room along with the house.
When we moved here, in buying this house (original part of it, 1854, but a dining room addition, then a kitchen addition, probably circa early 1900s) the dining room just sang out FLW so we bought a craftsman-style set for it, and while people do gather in the kitchen, what everyone loves the most is the dining room. It has a stone sideboard built in, and when it is a huge group we moved the chairs to the front rooms, expand the table, and people stand around noshing and talking. When it is a more intimate group (4-8) we always eat there. Even just hubby and me, especially in the summer, eat there at least once a week, when the kitchen gets uncomfortably hot. I have some visiting young kids (we don't have any, but most friends do) who just love it when we set a table, give the child one of those long lighters meant for lighting fireplaces, and have them ceremonially stand on a chair and light the cast iron, real candle chandelier. Then they actually enjoy learning what the various things in a full place setting are for, and sipping their ginger ale from a wine glass. After all, that is how both my husband and I learned.
Maybe it is because we live in a town of quite old houses, and most of my friends are into antiques and family heirlooms, we often have sit-down meals in the dining rooms.
When I have house guests (a few times a year) we always sit in the formal dining room, and if anything, I have a hard time prying them out of their chairs and into the front rooms. They'll sit for hours, fixing all the problems of the world over drinks and coffee.
I'm all for not having any rooms in your house you don't use. And a dining room is one of the most important.