At Work: A Classy Home Studio Renovation Project

Robin Oatts of Genre Creative.

Robin Oatts wasn’t planning to go into the photography business.

“I really didn’t know what I wanted to do when I graduated high school,” she says. She ended up attending the School of Advertising Art in Dayton and earned a degree in design.

Then she came back to Columbus and began working for Patrick Crawford at Spindle Studios. It was while assisting him on photo shoots that she really fell in love with the camera.

“I started doing shoots of my own on the side,” she says.

Oatts started her business Genre Creative in 2005 and went full time with it in 2010. About that same time, she bought a home in Clintonville and began renovating it.

The year-long renovation included transforming the basement into a gorgeous space to meet with and host clients, and conduct photo shoots. Her office is upstairs.

Her upstairs office suite.
The bright green walls keep her feeling energized.

The meeting space is about 440 square feet. Oatts designed the bar and Jim Hansel of Debris Mercantile built the top and the custom wine racks underneath. Her boyfriend, Jeremy Wells, made the shelving out of spare wood and plumbing. She and Wells finished all the wood to give it a gorgeous glow.

IKEA cabinets and custom built wine racks under the bar.
Screens roll down for photo shoots.

Along the wall, media cabinets from IKEA hold essentials for work, as well as speakers that often play music by Frank Sinatra.

The whole space has an industrial chic feel, which her clients love. Natural textures in the chairs and throws complete the look.

Media cabinets hold work essentials.
Client meeting area.

To supplement the photography business, Oatts designed her Soap Box photo booth and turned to Hansel to build it. The booth easily conveys her brand at parties. Oatts often turns to contractors to staff the photo booth and assist with photo shoots.

“The hardest part of the job is the responsibility of it all,” she says. “Admin, accounting, creative, you have to do it all.”

One of her clients is Ohio Health, which gives her an up-close look at surgeries. “Photographing surgeries is fascinating, something I never thought I’d see before,” she says.

Her work has also taken her into some of the best breakfast joints in Columbus, as she photographed all the shoots for Breakfast with Nick: Columbus.

Breakfast with Nick was really fun,” she says. “We got to meet so many people and I have a concrete piece of my work.”

Although she has been doing more photography than design, Oatts recently designed wedding invitation suites for Igloo Letterpress.

“There’s about nine to ten exclusive designs,” she says.

Having the flexibility to choose her own day is something she really enjoys about the job, and now she has a fantastic studio as well.

To learn more about Genre Creative, visit

Do you know of, have, or work in, a creative workspace and would like to be featured in this series? If so, please contact Anne Evans.