The House Observations of Microbial and Environmental Chemistry (HOMEChem) study is a collaborative field investigation designed to probe how everyday activities influence the emissions, chemical transformations and removal of trace gases and particles in indoor air. Sequential and layered experiments in a research house included cooking, cleaning, variable occupancy, and window-opening. This paper describes the overall design of HOMEChem and presents preliminary case studies investigating the concentrations of reactive trace gases, aerosol particles, and surface films. Cooking was a large source of VOCs, CO2, NOx, and particles. By number, cooking particles were predominantly in the ultrafine mode. Organic aerosol dominated the submicron mass, and, while variable between meals and throughout the cooking process, was dominated by components of hydrocarbon character and low oxygen content, similar to cooking oil. Air exchange in the house ensured that cooking particles were present for only short periods. During unoccupied background intervals, particle concentrations were lower indoors than outdoors. The cooling coils of the house ventilation system induced cyclic changes in water soluble gases. Even during unoccupied periods, concentrations of many organic trace gases were higher indoors than outdoors, consistent with housing materials being potential sources of these compounds to the outdoor environment. Organic material accumulated on indoor surfaces, and exhibited chemical signatures similar to indoor organic aerosol.