I received a few stovetop kettle recommendations from readers, too, and they are all good looking and above average (the tea kettles, that is. I'm sure the readers are, too....)
Someone likes this stainless model by Chantal:
It seems to be well made, and about half of 16 Amazon reviewers give it 5 stars. But many others complain that they burn their hands on the handle. And those backwards handles always look, well, backwards, to me. So it's right out.
Why do I pay so much attention to Amazon reviews? I tend to trust literate consumers who care enough to take time to endorse or complain about a product. As a former retail copywriter, I know better than to trust information from manufacturers. I'm more like to find accuracy and truthfulness from an angry or pleased consumer. I trust people who give "average" ratings the most. They aren't elated or passionate about the product; they're level-headed.
But back to the kettle hunt.
One of my readers recommended this Oxo Good Grips model, which comes in lots of interesting finishes, including cream:
I like Good Grips products in general, although the ergonomic handles on their peelers and zesters, etc., are often too big to fit in my utensil drawer (our next apartment will have a bigger kitchen for sure). This one has an internal whistle and the spout opens automatically when you tip it to pour — very good design. I was especially drawn to the new Anniversary edition of this kettle, in brushed stainless steel with natural cork handles. The cork model has no reviews yet, but I suspect people will have issues with flaking or some other kind of failure; cork is a tricky substance, and there's probably a reason it isn't often used in cookware.
The regular Good Grips kettle has gotten about 160 reviews, with about a third giving it 5 stars and another third giving in only 1 or 2. People complain about melting plastic, flaking and rust, loose screws that won't stay tight, and handles that fall off. But this particular review gave me the willies:
We just had a number of things in our home tested for lead another other heavy metals and this teakettle tested positive for very high levels of cadmium (a known carcinogen). Yuck. Not cool. Our teakettle is orange and it's possible that there is less (or no) cadmium in the unglazed or other (not red or orange) colors. But who knows. You might want to stay away from this one --or ask OXO for confirmation that other colors are free of heavy metals: [...]
Finally, there's this handsome Copco Fusion, which I'd never seen before:
This one is stainless on the top and enameled steel on the bottom. I love the way it looks, but it also gets very mixed reviews from 18 people, including, broken handles, rust, and awkward pouring. Almost half of the reviewers give it only 1 or 2 stars. It's lovely, but it would make me nervous.
So what kettles get great reviews? This one, the Simplex Heritage, has gotten 10 reviews and all are at least 4 stars:
This is clearly a satisfactory kettle. I only wish I liked how it looked. I tend to like old-fashioned things, but this reminds me of my cranky Irish grandmother, who was a terrible cook, serving her grandchildren tasteless meals of watery hamburger "hash" and weak, boiling cups of Salada without sugar or milk. Until I was in my late teens, I thought tea was something bitter that burned your mouth, and didn't see the point. I don't know why this kettle reminds me of all this, but it does. She wouldn't have owned this kettle; she'd have gotten the cheap Old Dutch knockoff that tends to fall apart in people's hands.
Maybe I can get over these memories and get this "cranky" kettle, but it might require some therapy. Maybe I should watch a few Upstairs, Downstairs episodes. I was addicted as a kid. Mrs. Bridges's kettle would have looked like this one.
[Oh, my god! In hunting for an explanatory link, I discovered a new BBC series based on Upstairs Downstairs! It's set in 1937, with Jean Marsh as Rose and hopefully other original cast members. They're going to be shown at Christmas in England, lucky bums. We Americans have to wait until April.]
Wow, searching for a tea kettle has surprising rewards. But back to the tea crisis.
A handful of people strongly recommend this Hario Buono kettle, but it's primarily for making drip-filter coffee (which my husband does, often). I think it looks like a watering can gone bad and it doesn't hold even a quart of water. It's the ugliest kettle out there; I hope you agree:
I love this spherical kettle by WMF, which I've seen in shops in Paris, mainly because I like round, shiny things but also because the handle is on the side and I would never have to worry about the lid flipping off and burning me as I pour (this happens with my current kettle):
There are only two reviews but they are raves: "the whistle is great and the handle stays cool to the touch after the water boils." And I think it's handsome; kettles never look all that "sexy," but this one has a lot of appeal, visual and tactile. I want to stroke those cool, shiny curves. And it would be the highlight of the kitchen, living on our black glass cooktop. The problem is that it only holds 1-1/2 quarts, and that's not enough to fill my 2-quart hot water bottle.
Finally, for shiny, round looks, I also like this Cuisinox Elite, but it must be brand new since it has no reviews yet:
But people complain that other, less-expensive Cuisinox 18/10 stainless kettles rust and have hot handles. So I remain on the fence about this one.
And about kettles in general. Keep those comments and recommendations coming, please!