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Planning Your Outdoor Oasis

This local family focuses on building beautiful outdoor backdrops for your family

Mike Chekanoff has been in construction his entire life. Starting back when he was just a boy, he would accompany his father (who had his own construction business) on job sites that involved mostly exterior construction and remodeling, learning the tricks of the trade of what it takes to run a successful and enjoyable business early on.

When his father passed away from an illness, Mike asked himself, "What do I want to do with the last 10 years of my career?" The answer? Build a family business that he and his sons can be proud of.

"Like most people, family is so important to me," Mike says. "As a father, you want to take the lumps for your kids so they don't have to. To me, it's not work. I've always been fortunate that my job has felt like doing something I wanted to be doing. [With a family business], you're establishing something to be proud of—every family-owned business can relate to that."

Alex, who manages operations, and Joe, in charge of marketing, were eager to make what is now the Chekanoff family business a success. "We're picking up the trade from dad," Joe says. 

Being in the patio enclosure and decking business for decades, starting The Exterior Living Company is a dream come true for all three Chekanoff men on multiple accounts. Their specialty is creating "exterior backdrops" that create the perfect outdoor escape homeowners dream of through designing and building beautiful sun rooms and decks that the whole family can enjoy.

Partnering with premium decking company TimberTech for long-lasting and environmentally sound decking, Mike, Joe and Alex elevate homeowners' living spaces in a minimal maintenance environment using unique composites which are made out of recycled grocery store bags, polymers and resins, providing a 30-year warranty and financing options to homeowners.

Services under The Exterior Living Company's umbrella include any outdoor living amenity that will enhance your outdoor living experience, from lighting packages and pergolas to swim spas, privacy screens and "all of the fun things." If you aren't looking to completely remodel, but need resurfacing of an existing wood deck or want to replace or add a sliding or French door, consider the Chekanoff men the guys for the job.

"You want the deck to coordinate with the home," Mike says. "You can be really creative with color schemes, decking patterns and floor board patterns."

As for things to consider when building, Mike provides simple guidelines. "How large is your family? When you entertain, how many people do you have over? You [also] need to think about how you are going to use your deck today versus how you are going to use it in the future. [For example], your kids may be toddlers now, but maybe you're thinking about graduation parties in the future."

Budget is another factor to consider, which Mike assures homeowners they "don't need to go full out right away" with building a deck and sunroom. "Build the deck first, as it is the foundation" Mike says. "In the future, we can add a three-season room. And within 8-10 years, you have your dream outdoor living."

"It all starts with a good plan," Alex adds. 

They are smart with their approach, keeping functionality and practicality—in addition to a gorgeous aesthetic—top of mind.

"Design is extremely important when you're thinking of how to maximize your space," Mike says. "The deck location in its relationship to the door is just one of the few things people can consider. Do you want two sitting zones? Would you like a cafe table? Are you a griller? You want to make sure your grill isn't in a high traffic area where little hands can get to the grill. I often build steps wider so kids can enjoy their popsicles and have lunch on the steps," Mike says. "It can really become a part of your life."

The fact that Mike, Joe and Alex have mastered all aspects of the job, from digging holes to framing to designing, can't be overlooked.

"We come with the proper tools, proper equipment and proper experience," Mike says. "We understand not only the products we represent but the materials that are already a part of your home, taking things like the weather into consideration when building. These types of decisions need to be made with a lot of thought."

Learn more about The Exterior Living Company on their website,

"Like most people, family is so important to me."

"It all starts with a good plan."

  • Left to right: Joe, Mike and Alex Chekanoff, owners of The Exterior Living Company
  • A stunning sun room complete with floor-to-ceiling windows
  • Aerial view of outdoor deck
  • Mike Chekanoff shakes his father, Alex Chekanoff's, hand
  • Mike Chekanoff with son, Alex Chekanoff
  • A young Alex Chekanoff sweeps debris off concrete.
  • Alex Chekanoff (Mike's father) with Joe Chekanoff

Businesses featured in this article