I've had an ongoing battle with the dining room--something I really looked forward to having when we renovated our house a few years ago. I was excited about the room itself, with exposed stone on one wall from our original house...I was so excited watching the construction. Unfortunately, it has deteriorated into a hallway of sorts between the rest of the house and the office. In fact, it spent most of the summer with piles of last year's school papers all over. :(
So with nesting in full swing, I tore into it and tried to figure out why it doesn't get used. I think it is a combination of being dark (just one window) and perhaps a lack of comfortable chairs (a collection of odds and ends chairs are what we are currently using). So I rearranged shelves with a collection of craft supplies, dishes, and board games hoping to encourage folks into the room, and started searching antique stores and second hand shops for chairs.
But the biggest difference I noticed is when I brought in a cordless speaker to aid in my cleaning motivation...and suddenly everyone was in the room dancing and playing. Course, I shooed them away so I could clean, but I set up some music the next day when things were sorted, and painting and crafting ensued. And the next morning when I came downstairs, there were games of chess ongoing.
Perhaps we are getting somewhere.