You've got two choices when you aim for the antiques shops in Kensington. Go east for knickknacks, silver, old books, and china. Or head west for the warehouses full of antique French, English, and other European furniture, chandeliers, and objets d'art. (Connecticut Ave. divides the two areas by more than traffic.) If you enjoy a day of poking around little shops, turn right off Connecticut Avenue (Rte. 185) to Kensington's historic district. You'll find 5 blocks of little shops, including Antiques and Uniques (tel. 301/942-3324); Pritchard's (tel. 301/942-1661), which also sells new decorative tiles and lighting; and the multidealer Antique Village, which also has a small lunch room. For serious antiques shopping, decorators (and homeowners) head to West Howard. There, among the car repair shops and other warehouses, are more than a dozen dealers who import their wares from overseas. Sparrows (tel. 301/530-0175) is the largest, with the most jaw-droppingly beautiful furniture. Much of it wouldn't fit in the average house. The mahogany gleams at crowded Acanthus (tel. 301/530-9600). Huret Antiques (tel. 301/530-7551) stocks 19th-century French and French-inspired designs. Most shops are open daily; free parking is plentiful.