The State of Stuff in America Expand options

Here’s a riddle for you: A household has accumulated more than 300,000 personal items. The home itself spans approximately 930 square feet. How does all the stuff fit?

Answer: It doesn’t. And not for a lack of trying, either.

MakeSpace recently conducted an online survey with Ask Your Target Market (AYTM) about the state of stuff in America, talking to 1,000 men and women in the United States.

What’s the general consensus?

While we’re aware we have a lot of stuff, downsizing is no easy task, and determining what can be kept, stored, or given away can be a daunting process.

“This survey confirms what we’ve known at MakeSpace for years, that while people are seeking out a more minimalist lifestyle and choosing to live in smaller spaces or downsize, most still have a lot of belongings, many of which have sentimental value,” said MakeSpace Chief Marketing Officer Richard Mumby.

Let’s see how the stats [and the boxes] stack up:

The Nostalgia Predicament

to keep or not to keep infographic

People are overwhelmed by the amount of stuff they’re holding onto, but even more stressful is the potential remorse they’d feel if they got rid of something “important.”

So what are we saving?

47.7% of people are keeping their and their children’s old toys or books, even those that are no longer useful.

25.8% are reliving their glory days with old trophies.

43.5% of respondents confessed to holding onto a school art project or handmade gift from their kids.

People know that they should clear the clutter, but many are hesitant from experience: 41.6% of those surveyed said that they regret throwing or giving away sentimental items in the past, despite not having any space to store them.

Closet Conundrum

the great closet compromise Clutter infographic

Brace yourselves, people: the things your peers are willing to do for more closet space are…fascinating, at the very least.

It seems that closets just aren’t big enough to hold all our stuff. 67.2% of people said that their bedroom closet is the most cluttered space in their home, while 25.3% claim their hall closet holds the bulk of their clutter.

And whose fault is that? Ladies, raise your hands. 47.7% of women admitted that they use more of their home’s total closet space than their significant other. But the men aren’t off the hook: 9.2% of those surveyed admitted that they’ve taken over the closets in their homes.

Regardless of who’s commandeering the closets, more than half of people (52.6%) agree that an extra walk-in is preferable to an extra bathroom.

Of course, to accommodate extras, you’ll need to cut back in other areas. Nearly half of participants are more than willing to make some major sacrifices:

  • 49.1% of those surveyed claim they would be willing to be celibate for 6 months in order to have more closet space, because it’s easier to wear your chastity belt than to try and store it
  • 17.2% of respondents said they would opt for a six-month pay cut if it meant a more sizable closet
  • 51% of men would be open to adding instead of subtracting—to their waistlines, that is. They would consider gaining 10 pounds for 6 months if it meant more room to hang their now-two-sizes-too-small pants

Square Footage Fight

she's cleaning house Clutter infographic

Handling your own overflow of stuff is one thing. Purging someone else’s extras is another. And 32.7% of women have done it, admitting to throwing out or donating some of their significant other’s things—without them knowing (only 16.4% of men admitted doing the same. Smart).

When they get things out in the open, over half of respondents aren’t arguing about the thermostat, clothes on the floor, or whose turn it is to wash the dishes.

Instead, 52.2% of people surveyed said that not having enough space is typically the reason behind a fight with their roommate or significant other.

Would more space in the home cause them to agree on a comfortable temperature, have better aim into the hamper, and scrub their plate as soon as they finished eating? Probably not, but it might help.

Secrecy Situation

stashing our stuff Clutter infographic

In the event we can’t successfully get rid of someone’s stuff, we’re keeping the secret between ourselves and hiding items in some pretty obscure places.

  • 59% of people surveyed store stuff under the bed
  • 18.5% admitted to stockpiling their things under the kitchen or dining room table
  • 15.4% said they pull a Carrie Bradshaw and store their things inside of kitchen appliances (e.g. oven, microwave, etc.)
  • The lucky ones (63.4%) humble-bragged that they use a spare bedroom for any bonus items
  • Many people take hidden storage outside the home, with 27% using their garage to park their overflow of belongings instead their cars
  • 15% of all respondents (and 20% of just the men) said they use their car trunk for extra storage
  • 17.1% of men have had their possessions exiled to the balcony or outdoor patio


The facts don’t lie, guys. We’ve got too much stuff, and we have serious reservations about the proper way to deal with it.

MakeSpace makes that decision a little easier.

With on-demand, full-service storage in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington, DC, customers no longer have to sacrifice their already-small spaces by implementing awkward storage solutions. MakeSpace picks up, stores, and delivers your items, and it can all be handled with a few taps in the app.

Downsizing is tough, but with MakeSpace, we can start to tackle our piles (hidden and otherwise) in the most convenient way possible. Schedule your first pickup today (it’s free!), and see why stress-free, affordable storage is the answer to America’s clutter quandary.

Clutter is more than just storage.

To find out how you can declutter your life, talk to one of our space experts. We’ll get you started with the right storage plan for you.

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