My husband's boss is coming over! Should I hide the zombies and naked ladies?

January 21 2013 | offbeatbride
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Does this zombie Lincoln oil painting say "management material" to you?
My husband just informed me that in a few weeks, his boss has so graciously picked our house to hold their monthly "briefing." Cool, I love entertaining, but we're not exactly like the other people in the company. Meaning that they wear collared shirts, have business cards and clean, un-inked skin. Also, our two front rooms, where everyone would be for this little get together, are full of my husband's zombie and macabre paintings, and pin-ups.

From the past meetings they've had that I've attended, the other houses are bright and fantastically cut from Better Homes and Gardens. They're all great folks, but some are a little judgey, and I don't want to make anyone feel uncomfortable or weirded out. I'm wondering if I should take some of the paintings out, get lots of flowers to distract from the gory goodness, or just let it be?

This meeting means a lot to us, so we don't want to screw it up with half-naked ladies and corpses. How do you make such an offbeat space into a crowd-friendly one? -Tiffany

Y'all had some great insights about handling tattoos in a place of business, and minimizing weirdness when hosting clients in a home office. So whatchu got when it comes to hosting business meetings in your anything-but-business-casual homes?

  1. Just how full-of-zombies are we talking? Like every square inch of wall space covered, or a few small illustrations here and there? Pin-ups more classy or more pornographic?

    Edited to say: I'm inclined to say maybe stash the extra-naked or extra-gory stuff if YOU are uncomfortable with displaying it, but I think people's judginess is their own problem. Your husband's boss and co-workers probably already know that he has offbeat tastes, but hopefully they don't much care either way if he is a hard worker. If they do, again, it's their own problem.

  2. I would be tempted to tone it down a little for a first time work meeting, even though it is your home. I don't think you should have to remove everything but you could take the most extreme pieces out and leave a couple of small hints about your personal taste. It may end opening up a conversation that will take the pressure off for next time.

  3. I would probably remove most of the nudity or scantily clad women (unless they might already know about your husband's affection for pin-ups). This is one of those issues that can really bother some people or make them really uncomfortable and this is the first time having these people over to your house. Leave the most tasteful ones but anything with just bra and panties or less I would hide for now. There are a lot of people out there who do not appreciate pin-up art as art or understand it. My husband draws pin-ups so I definitely understand (and hear about judginess from his fellow art students). You probably don't want to start a feminist debate or have them judge it as porn (even if it isn't).

    As for the zombies, I'd just hide the goriest, as others said. Zombies are more acceptable since they're all over in pop culture.

    Once you get a feel for how they react in your space, then you can decide how you want to proceed. But if you're this nervous, I'd just tone things down for your own comfort.

    Flowers are always nice but you could also just use some nice scarves to cover some of the art.

  4. I think that if the boss does these meetings at people's homes, then there is a wish to get to know the people they work with in a better way. So perhaps take out pieces that would be considered "NSFW", and leave the rest up. If it is something that he wouldn't feel comfortable showing on his screensaver at work (or in his cubicle) then that could be a good rule of thumb.

    • This is exactly what I was going to say. If its *too* graphic or *too* naked then I would take it down but other than that leave 'em up.

      His boss would be ridiculous to not understand that one of his employee's homes isn't going to be up to HR code. However, there's no need to make someone in the group, who may be required to be there, uncomfortable with excessive violence or nudity.

    • OR- the boss is doing this to peek into everyone's lives, so he can judge them. Sorry, but I have known bosses precisely like this. They try to get close to employees, then make character judgements, then start demoting or making a hostile office atmosphere.

      • yeah, sadly that was my thought, too. Like, the original poster didn't say what type of business they were in, but I find it weird when it is requested FROM the management that a meeting is held in a house…it's one thing for someone to offer, but it seems like boundaries of work/home aren't really a value of the business…

        • They're a security electronics company for high security institutions. Mainly prisons, sometimes courthouses and government buildings. There's only one office, and that's just where the big boss holds business meetings and the secretaries do paper work. Other than that, the guys (the boss is very old school about gender) are separated by what they do, and only on jobsites. Like all the steel crew will be together on their thing, then the techs move in, and then the inspectors/testers etcetc. So these meetings are away to get all the VIPS from all the groups/teams together and discuss progress.

          • I was wondering if there would be any women present, who might be uncomfortable being in the same room with pictures of boobs *and* their male coworkers. It sounds like it will be all guys, but if it's a very "boy's club" atmosphere within the group, they might make comments in reference to the pin-ups that will be annoying to you and your husband. So yeah, anything NSFW should prolly come down, so you will have no regrets.

    • I absolutely agree that anything NSFW should go. Because after all, this is a WORK meeting, therefore if it wouldn't fly at work, it should be covered or moved for a work event.
      However, if this is a SOCIAL event, then I think you should let your freak flag fly πŸ™‚

    • I think this is a great suggestion. Do a temporary NSFW cull of your art (take down anything he wouldn't feel comfortable hanging up at the office), since this is a business meeting. Anything else is fair game, though, and ultimately will just show off your awesome personalities and probably spark some conversation.

  5. Would your husband take one of the pictures and hang it at work, or a theoretical shared workspace with your coworkers? I think your answer to that is the answer to this question.
    Your home is temporarily becoming an office. I think it stands to reason that you should make you home office appropriate. And if your workplace is zombie-friendly, great, let it fly. But I'm sensing that's not so.
    I think there's a very real chance that being totally submerged in your zombie den could leave your husband's coworkers with an impression that will affect his career in a negative way. Some of them might be like "Not bad!" and appreciate his geekatude, but others will not be so kind. This response is based on the response I've heard from some of my own coworkers over time after visiting fellow employees' homes. So sorry if it's harsh!
    If you're the sort of people who have zombie paintings and pinups, I'm guessing that there's other personality quirkiness in your decor. I think your husband's employees will get a solid sense of who you are without the paintings.

  6. I would assume that most of the employees do a spruce-up/freshen-up of the space that will be used for the meeting, and probably buy flowers. I mean, I would hope that their homes don't look straight out of BH&G everyday!

    So, what I would do is this: remove some of the items that are farthest from mainstream. Then, bring in a few vases of fresh flowers. So, your spin on BH&G…

    • Exactly! You don't know what all the other employees might have removed from their homes before hosting these meetings…You never know–these people may not be as mainstream as they appear, either…

      • I agree with you that they certainly aren't always soo perfect. But the difference is clear. I'm one of those people that if left alone will look through others peoples drawers and cabinets just see what they're like. Haha. Most of they guys in the company are late 30's or midlife crisising. Their kids are much older and their wives like the designer things in life. We're mid 20's, have 2 little ones and aren't afraid to fly the freak flag.
        Don't get me wrong, most of them are very nice people, but you can totally tell which ones aren't so open.

      • Now I am imagining that ALL the co-workers actually have massively nerdy tastes and ones usually has walls covered in vampires and another is a star wars themed paradise. But then they ALL hide it away and buy the flowers for the meeting thinking 'imagine if they knew!'
        And Ariel's like 'This is weird. It's the fifth one of these questions I have had this year, all from the same location…'

  7. This is a great question, and one I've thought about a lot as I work from home and my home office is where I meet with my clients.

    My rule of thumb for my office decor:
    – Offbeat is totally acceptable.
    – Significant Nudity or gore is out.
    – Swears are out (kind of).

    I keep my tattooed lady up, my skull with roses and my heart with roses up. All are offbeat, but I would hang them at a formal office too.

    Pinups get left for my bedroom, but admittedly I never close my door when a client comes over. If they decide to snoop in my bedroom that's their choice, and I'm not going to hide everything in every room of my house.

    I'm a big fan of subversive crafts and recently got into subversive cross stitch. I do have the words "Shut your whore mouth" cross stitched and hanging in my office.. but its in my sewing closet, so when a client comes over its nothing to close the closet and leave the swears to me.

    I would agree with most of the previous posters. Tame it down a bit, but still let your offbeat flag fly. A lot of people are probably into zombies and pinups too, they just might not be as comfortable letting everyone else know that. Keep what you think is the tamest, and perhaps tone down the rest of the decor just for the meeting.

    Part of the meeting is to well, meet. People might be too distracted looking at artwork if you have too much up as well.

  8. I'm not sure where you live (and if you're not in the U.S. then the laws might be different), but you should look at the pin-ups with the sexual harassment laws in mind. As dootsiebug said, your home will temporarily be an office and that would affect how your home should look when they come over.

    As for the zombies, I'd say leave a couple of your favorites up and put the rest away, at least for the first meeting. After you get the feel of how the others react to your home decor choices, then you can decide what to do next time. Good luck!

    Having said all that–the zombie/pin-up decor sounds amazing. I'd love to see pictures. πŸ™‚

    • Unfortunately the sexual harassment thing has crossed my mind. But the only women who work for the company are the secretaries, and they are the owners wife and daughters. The company isn't exactly putting out hiring signs fairly. It's more of a good ol boys club. But even with an almost all male staff, some have pretty strong religious/moral beliefs.

  9. Does your husband feel comfortable going to his boss for guidance? It strikes me that the boss does this so people can appreciate their co-workers' non-work lives. It's a bit of a reversal, rather than adapting your appearance to work standards it's a chance for work to adapt to the employee. So if your husband is known for his offbeat interests his co-workers might be disappointed to see it all hidden away. Maybe put away artwork that would be considered harassment, and warm folks up to the idea of zombie art. If you speak about it enthusiastically enough they might view this briefing as an opportunity to see something different.

  10. Why not go the opposite direction and throw some cash at the thrift stores of your choice. I hear 'Dogs Playing Poker' and 'Blue Boy' are high art. Couple it with some 70s orange check covers over the furniture and BPA engorged 70s Tupperware and you've got a mockery of the other's Better Homes that'll leave an impression. I find ire and derision in people's need to be one of the herd and their abject fear of those who walk a different path.

    • Cookies can also be distracting!
      Put them on the opposite side of the room from the more "interesting" pieces that are now obscured by flowers, and I bet no one will even look beyond the cookie plate.

  11. When two of my best friends had an apartment together, the living room had a Wall of Naked. This wall even had some prints of said friends as nude models. When their parents came over, they hung a very very large tapestry (the kind often found at headshops) over the entire wall, thus hiding the naked without having to take it down. Of course, if all of your walls have pinups and zombies on them, this wouldn't work, but taking down and putting back up art is a pain in the ass, so I personally would just tack some tapestries over whatever I could.

    Also, if you haven't already, can you please submit a home tour because I want to see the pinup and zombie awesomeness.

  12. I'd say your husband should probably give his coworkers a heads up in case of any phobia/personal issues. If I went to a place with zombie pics up all over, I wouldn't be able to stay. (Not saying there is anything wrong with your decor, just that I couldn't personally deal.)

    • This is a valid point. I'd recommend checking in with his boss, if he felt comfortable with that, or his coworkers. I have a friend who lived through the 94 Rwanda genocide. At a young age, she witnessed her entire family being slaughtered… zombies bring up some PTSD issues for her still.

      I love zombies, but because I also love having her over, I don't really have zombie knickknacks/art in our main "hang out" areas of the house. I've warned her that I do have some art like this in other areas of my home, so that she can prepare herself and choose if she would like to go into, say, my crafting area.

      • Wow, it never occurred to me that Zombie pictures might upset someone in this way.
        Guess I've lived a lucky and sheltered life.

      • As someone with PTSD I just wanted to say thank you for bringing this up. While zombies don't trigger me, I've definitely seen artwork that did in my friends homes, and it can be extremely distracting.

        • I hadn't thought of the PTSD issue. A lot of the guys are older. I can't speak for all of them but I know for certain a handful were in Vietnam. Thanks for bringing this up!! It's absolutley something I'll keep in mind!

  13. Those BH&G homes? Jill probably bought throw pillows. Kelly's husband hastily kicked the handcuffs under the couch as she answered the door. Frank moved his bathroom reading to the under-the-sink cupboard.

    There are two issues which other posters have hit on: the NSFW/ HR issue. And how much of a distraction is it going to be when they're trying to get work done? I'd be okay with zombies, but I have a coworker who would have to leave for all but the most mild zombies.

    So I would edit the collection. Since the meeting means a lot to you, I would err on the side of "move it to the bedroom for today." If you have any friendly looking zombies (like plants vs. zombie level friendly) I think it would be okay.

    You can also mitigate some of the judginess by being a fantastic hostess. "Tiffany and her husband are obsessed with zombies" can be dulled quite a bit if it's followed up with "but she sure makes a good coffee cake." Proactively give them something positive to talk about.

  14. I have more questions than help- I'm really surprised they do this. Does the office pick up the insurance if someone was to get injured at your place? Can someone claim sexual harassment if they see something with nudity on it, since this is an office function? Are there people who have special needs that might not be able to get in and out of your house? What if someone damages your stuff- does the office pay for it?

    I wouldn't be taking down my stuff in fear of offending someone….I'd be taking it down in fear of being sued, it getting broken, or any other amount of reasons we hold work functions at work or in a meeting space set up to handle these issues.

    • (And I realize that sounds like concern trolling…I am just really protective of my space and I would freak the hell out of my husband came home and said a bunch of strangers were coming to a work function there… you may be on more familiar terms with the people coming over)

    • This comment made me think about this in a totally different light.
      These are legitimate concerns and I really don't think it's trolling.

    • Ooh! I can help with this one. I've been editing our employee manual! (And no, it doesn't sound like concern trolling.) Obviously, check the policies of your own company before you assume all of this applicable to you.

      Thanks to the advent of telecommuting and such, many companies do cover "alternate work locations" with worker's comp. and etc – *for their employees.* (If your MIL breaks her foot in your home office, that's on your dime.) Private homes are not required to adhere to the standards of the ADA, even if you conduct business there.

      Coworkers breaking things you own would not be a issue the company would concern itself with. You'd have to take it up with the coworker in question. A coworker breaking a company-issued piece of equipment would likely be covered by the company, just as it would in the office.

      The sexual harassment issue is definitely a thing to be concerned about if you decorate with pinups, or artsy nude paintings or original Rodins. But it's a sword that swings both ways, so it protects you from leering coworkers, just like it would in the office.

      • Thanks for answering that- it is really interesting…. and it kind of reads like the entire responsibility lies on the host's shoulders. Scary.

        I guess the difference for me is that these aren't invited guests in my house…. they're basically strangers that this person didn't get a choice to invite, vet, know their criminal backgrounds, etc. It seems so strange that the boss can just point his finger at an employee and say, "You get to host this at your house! It's on you!" It reminds me of the opening scenes of the Hobbit, but with 100% less dwarves, wizards, and awesome.

        • The home office (only office) is in LA. The employees come from all over, here in VA, MI, MN, NC, LA, TX. SO to make things simple, they just choose an employees house that is close to the work site. It has been weird going into other people's homes that I don't know, and I can imagine and have seen on some of the other wives' faces that they're a little uneasy too. Some host have full meals, others finger food, some alcohol, some not. There really isn't a protocol or standard for these meetings. They just look at who is closest to the jobsite, then pick their favourite worker. And believe me, the insurance/accident issue has crossed my mind. Especially with my dogs, and the fact that we haven't gotten around to renovating our back porch yet. Things I've planned for, but the whole thing is a lot to take in and handle!

  15. You probably have a good meter for what is inappropriate since you are asking this question.

    I would definitely take Abe down. A lot of men look up to Lincoln and see him as a role model, and having a zombified picture of him would probably be offensive.

    Just look around the space and say "what would I not like them to see", or invite a neighbor over and say "what stands out to you in this room?". If they've never been over before they can tell you what would catch their eye right away as offensive.

    Your husband can probably tell you how many old fuddy duddies or stuck up people will be there too. If you have any sports items or decorations you can use them to fill in any blank spots on the walls that you've taken something off of. Sports are a huge important topic in office land as they are political without being actual politics, so you can argue and give each other a hard time about what team you like without it attacking anyone's personal values.

    Good luck, I hope this meeting does great things for your family!

    • To clarify: The Abe photo is just used for illustrative purposes (*I* found it on Amazon). Tiffany may or may not have zombie Lincoln on her walls. πŸ˜‰

  16. What I did for when my conservitive family is over, is cut out pictures from the internet and lightly tape them into the front of the picture frames of my pin ups. It's an easy fix and then I just hold on to the internet pics for next time I need to cover up the ladies.

  17. I can't believe how chill everyone is about this. I would refuse. My home is not a corporate workspace, and I am not interested in modifying my (pretty controversial) home to appease a bunch of folks who straight DO NOT belong there.

    This seems like a huge invasion of privacy.

    I must say I appreciate your willingness to sacrifice privacy for the good of your husband's career. It speaks well for you that you are so flexible and accommodating.

    • I agree- I moved once and some "sightly uptight" coworkers offered help and I accepted. All they did was put away my dishes, and never even saw the decor, but based on my paint scheme alone they'd decided I was "too dark for their tastes" and I was ostracized at work from that day on and was basically bullied. Never again would I let others in my house who weren't long time friends.

      You could hide every zombie pic ever and some people will still pick up on the fact that your home is not like their home and that is all it takes for some people.

    • I totally understand your point. A person's home is their castle and sanctuary.

      But on the other hand, you want guests to be comfortable in your home. These guests just happen to be from work. So yes, it is a trade-off, but not so much more onerous than having a dinner party.

      • If the poster or her honey invited work people over, they would come as guests. However, it sounds like the poster's home was chosen by the boss–the hosts did not choose this situation. Which seems really odd to me. My boss and co-workers should not be in my house unless they are invited.

        If this happened to me, I might say that a pipe burst, and we are having repairs done that week. The meeting can find a new location.

        • you're right, I didn't choose it. The big boss did. I fully understand the uneasiness. Truthfully after the whole "YAY PARTY!!!" my mind is a wee panicked. I feel like if we didn't need his job, I'd say hell no. But we both want me to be home with the kids and this company has allowed us to do so, while still being a family. My husband is just one in a handful of employees that gets to bring his family along to jobsites on company money. So I sacrifice some of my comforts for our kids. It doesn't always settle easy with me tho.

    • This. No way in hell. I am getting panic attacks thinking about having my (awesome and wonderful!) coworkers in my house. Just not okay.

  18. Really, it comes down to the question of how much of your offbeat-ness do you let the normies see. I choose not to reveal to my co-workers that I play D&D. Not because I am ashamed, but because I'd like to be seen as management material and very few people see the value in tabletop roleplaying. It's their narrow-mindedness, not mine, but I want to play in their world.

    I know people who are either highly employable or aren't really interested in management and they have the luxury of letting people see who they are and fuck 'em if they don't like it. I also know people who are lucky enough to have found a work environment where they can be both offbeat/geeky and management material. It is possible, but if this doesn't describe you or your work environment, the reality is people are judgy and you could be taking a risk.

    Ultimately, you have to ask yourself whether you're willing to risk opinions of you being changed for good, or whether you're better off blending in for the time being.

  19. Something that might be an option to replace the art (because blank spots on the wall are obnoxious to me) is to go get a cheap goodwill landscape and add something kinda cute and snarky into it. I have one of a house by the sea ($5.00 investment) and I painted tentacles coming out of the water. A friend of mine has one of a forest and painted Paul Bunyan's head and sholders off in the distance. Little hacks like this can keep the offbeat feel of a home while still being SFW. Something like this might be a fun alternative to some of the more risque art. Although, it's your call. I love the distraction techniqes mentioned above! Cookies for EVERYONE!

  20. This totally might not be an entirely socially acceptable alternative, but I think it would be funny to print out a bunch of black "CENSORED" bars and place them wherever they might be needed. Quick and easy!

    This is all in jest, of course. πŸ˜‰ But I still think it would be cool.

    • I actually think this is a cute idea. It puts a humorous and non-threatening tone to the room and manages to both show your personality and lighten the mood. If you're not sure if your co-workers/boss would like your zombies, but you know they have a sense of humor this is a great solution!

  21. Okay, I read this post and all the comments twice.

    My question- this is normal somewhere? Your bosses and co workers coming to your home for meetings. I am just totally blown away that this happens anywhere. I would never ever want any employer I have ever had (some of whom I have really liked) in my home. Especially for work. I guess I have a really thick line between personal and work. Co workers who I am friendly with yes, but "The boss". Weird. I'd be careful what you leave visible in your medicine cabinet too!

    • Being one of those people who go through others' cabinets ( NOT to judge, I'm just super curious) I think about this. I'm pretty sure this isn't the norm, but this company has been great to us, and allows us to raise our kids the way we want so I sacrifice. While I'm typing this I'm actually skyping with me sister and she suggested I empty my medicine cabinet and fill it with candy. So if anyone does go snooping, they'll be pleasantly surprised!

      • Oh this is the best idea ever. Since you have to do it: Hide everything in the bedroom and social hack the whole space. Put up some cheesey 1980's motivational posters. Put one of those big hand painted signs on the garage that says "Welcome (to my) home fellow coworkers!" serve everything on licensed character birthday plates. Just go silly with it.

  22. Let your freak flag fly. I have learned that people actually are not as judgemental as you think. It may offend some, but be kind and friendly, nobody will worry about what you collect.

  23. You need your job for money to live right ? Now days people get fired for just about everything lately, from something they did decades ago, to saying the wrong thing, to political affiliations. Play it safe so you have a secure job. I would hide the zombies and nudey/panties pinups in a closet. Leave the clothed pinups and make a mean snack to distract people and be the hostest with the mostest even if you aren't are up tight like the rest of them. Job security is important!!

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