Ill put my head in the noose and suggest the Nuova Simonelli Oscar. You dont get lots of stainless steel (plastic body) or a hot water tap for long blacks, but Ive had mine for about 8 months and am very pleased with its steaming ability, having done most of my learning on a Sunbeam 6910. Also very satisfied with the espresso output, though its an entirely manual process.
I have no problems producing steamed milk for 8-10 when the family all come home.
You should be able to get one well within your $1500 budget. Check with the site sponsors, a number of them sell the Oscar.