Loop Actions are the things that people do over and over, ideally without even thinking about it. A loop action is a singular action and the aggregate loop actions combine to form a routine. Loop actions can be as simple as making a cup of coffee or using soap in the shower or even lying down for bed. They can also be as complex as gardening on weekends, making a meal, or running an artistic practice. When spaces are well thought out and designed to accommodate our loop actions our experience of the space can be much more pleasant.
In my household, as my kids grew up, they had to pick one sport, one instrument, and do reasonably well in school. These three expectations brought with them a number of loop actions for my children. My daughter, for example, chose to play the piano, but the trouble was that if I told her to practice piano then she would inevitably not practice piano. However, if she was to sit at the piano of her own accord, she could play for hours on end. As a result, we put the piano right next to the front door, so that it would be the first thing visible to anyone walking into the house, and, lo and behold, the first thing she did when coming home from school was throw her backpack on the ground and sit at the piano.
Essentially by moving the piano, we identified my daughter's loop action----practicing piano---and redesigned accordingly, and even though we've both moved and remodeled our house and my daughter has grown up, the piano still remains in its spot by the door. Had we not identified that loop action and facilitated her practicing the piano, it’s entirely possible that she wouldn’t have taken the initiative to practice for herself, and she likely wouldn't have become the accomplished pianist that she now is.
Thinking of loop actions also reminds me of a bathroom remodel I worked on a few years ago in Westlake Hills: The master bath had no space for storage or staging of toiletries, so everything was in baskets and in the linen closet. This created two problems, firstly that it was nearly impossible to find the needed item, and secondly the couple using this bathroom had to try to balance items on the edge of the sink as they tried to get ready; that's all to say that there was no place to put the item once they were finally able to find it. It got to the point that the couple had to use separate bathrooms just to have access to the adequate amount of space.
As I entered the design process for this project, the very first thing I considered was how I could redesign their bathroom to facilitate the loop action(s) associated with getting ready and using their bathroom in the morning. With this goal in mind, we created a set of custom-made extra deep medicine cabinets by stealing a sliver of space from an adjacent closet and plumbing chase. The cabinets were electrified which allowed ease of use for electronic implements like hair dryers and electric toothbrushes. Furthermore, each item was given a designated slot. There were additional mirrors on the inside of the doors which allowed a convenient reflection that facilitated loop actions such as doing hair or applying makeup. The extra deep lighted medicine cabinets with mirrors on the inside back wall allowed my clients to store their stuff, open the door use everything they needed and simply close the door when they were done. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that identifying their loop actions and redesigning accordingly saved their marriage, but it certainly improved their quality of life greatly.